October 31, 2014
By Stephanie West
Los Angeles, CA – Maria Elena Durazo, recognized as one of the most influential labor leaders in the nation, will resign her position as the leader of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO to become a national officer of UNITE HERE, the hotel, casino and food service workers’ union. Durazo will serve as General Vice President on Immigration, Civil Rights and Diversity for the union.
Durazo, rose from the ranks of organizer, mobilized the largely immigrant hotel workers into one of the most progressive and active unions in Los Angeles. She was elected in 2006 to lead the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, labor’s umbrella organization representing hundreds of thousands of workers in Los Angeles County, Durazo is widely regarded as one of the most influential political figures in the state of California.
Her prominence attracted the attention of then Senator Barack Obama who asked her to serve on his Presidential Campaign Committee. Durazo is also a member of the Democratic National Committee and the Executive Council of the national AFL-CIO.
"I can summarize my career in a few words," said Durazo. "I grew up in the Central Valley of California. Cesar Chavez inspired me. I campaigned to become the leader of Local 11 at a time when immigrant hotel workers were not entitled to participate in their union if they didn’t understand English. My late husband, Miguel Contreras and I worked to empower immigrants and non-immigrants at the ballot box, bargaining table and workplace. I have carried on that work as the leader of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor for the last 8 ½ years and national AFL-CIO Executive Council leader since 2010. I have proudly led a movement that has extended the hand of labor to those who need us the most—those workers whose access to the American Dream have been blocked by poverty and callous employers."
"I am announcing that I have decided to take the next step in my life’s work. The international leadership of my union, UNITE HERE, has asked me to come home to guide their national efforts to organize immigrants in their workplaces and communities throughout the United States and Canada.
I will begin that work on January 1, 2015. I look forward to working with good people in Los Angeles and in cities across U.S. and Canada," continued Durazo.