Maria Elena Durazo '75


Maria Elena Durazo is the Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.

Maria Elena Durazo

Through more than 300 local unions, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor represents over 800,000 workers in every key industry, including transportation/goods movement; entertainment/media; services including janitorial and hospitality; education and construction; public sector and retail; health care, communications and more.

The daughter of Mexican immigrant farm workers, Durazo learned the importance of hard work and determination at a very young age. As a child, she traveled from Oregon to California with her parents and nine siblings to work in the fields.

Before leading the L.A. County Federation, Durazo was elected president and built the hotel workers union UNITE-HERE, Local 11, into one of the most active unions in Los Angeles County. Her hard work led her to become the first Latina elected to the executive board of HERE International Union in 1996. In 2004, she became executive vice president of UNITE-HERE International.

In 2003, Durazo became national director of the Immigrant Workers’ Freedom Ride, a national mobilization campaign initiated by HERE International to address the nations immigration laws. During that time (2000-2004) she also served on the national AFL-CIO’s Immigration Committee.

Durazo also had the great honor of serving as vice chair of the 2008 Democratic National Convention Committee and as a national co-chair for Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. In 2012, she is again serving as a national co-chair for President Obama’s re-election campaign.

In 2010, Durazo was named the third most influential non-elected California official by Capitol Weekly's Top 100 List.

That same year, Durazo was elected an executive vice president of the national AFL-CIO Executive Council where she serves as the only leader of a local labor movement in the country. She is the chair of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s appointee to the Los Angeles Economy and Jobs Committee, Board of Directors for LA Inc., the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau and the California League of Conservation Voters.

A resident of Los Angeles, Durazo is the mother of two sons, Mario and Michael, grandmother to Seneka and Sydney and the widow of Miguel Contreras, former Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.Durazo is a graduate of Saint Mary’s College in Moraga and earned a law degree from the People’s College of Law in 1985.

Hear Durazo's 2010 Saint Mary’s College commencement address.

Read more about Maria Elena Durazo.