Executive Council Statement | Better Pay and Benefits

On the Retirement of Maria Elena Durazo

We salute the power, passion and persistence of one of America’s most effective local labor leaders—Maria Elena Durazo. When Durazo took the helm of the Los Angeles Federation of Labor in 2005, she grabbed hold of social justice issues and other pressing needs within the Los Angeles community and connected them to the struggles of working people to raise wages and improve work.

In politics, Durazo is a force. She has helped elect politicians boost wages and push through major development projects. Along the way, she has helped make working family issues a central pillar in one of America’s largest and most dynamic cities. Her impact is felt by working people everywhere.

On the AFL-CIO Executive Council, Durazo served as the chair of the Immigration Committee, among other committee posts, and championed the shift within the labor movement to partner more closely with allies and like-minded groups that share our vision and values.  

Durazo began her career in labor as an organizer for the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union. For 17 years, she served as president of UNITE HERE Local 11 in Los Angeles.

It’s impossible to list all of her accomplishments and contributions to working families and to her union, the labor movement and the Democratic Party, yet we are certain she will continue to do great things as executive vice president of UNITE HERE for Immigration, Civil Rights and Diversity. We wish her all possible success.