For immediate release
February 2, 2017
Labor leader touts Maria Elena’s grassroots organizing of workers to build the labor movement from the ground up.
LOS ANGELES, CA – Today, Maria Elena Durazo, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Vice-Chair incumbent, and UNITE HERE General Vice President for Immigration, Civil Rights and Diversity, received the endorsement of the AFL-CIO in her bid for reelection.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released the following statement regarding Maria Elena’s candidacy:
“Maria Elena has spent her life organizing workers and building the labor movement from the ground up. Now, more than ever we need Maria Elena’s leadership in the DNC leadership. Throughout her life, she has been instrumental in organizing workers to raise wages and win union representation. Through grass roots campaigns she helped to change the political landscape of California from red to blue.”
The AFL-CIO represents 12 million workers and 56 national and international unions.
A dynamic and vanguard voice of the American labor movement, Maria Elena’s courageous leadership has raised the profile of immigrant workers and advanced the standard of living for thousands of low-wage workers – principles that are the basis to her vision for the DNC.
“Working people don’t need a Democratic Party that speaks for them,” says Maria Elena. “They need a Democratic Party in which they can speak for themselves. Too many people are spending too much time looking at everything that has gone wrong. I am focused on what has been done right and how we can build on it.”
As a dual force in politics and labor, Maria Elena used her grassroots organizing skills to mobilize Latino and immigrants in California to build political power and flip the state from red to blue – something unheard of at a time when unions were under a hostile environment.
“As a national labor leader running for DNC Vice-Chair, I have been proud to continue that tradition, mobilizing workers through grassroots campaigns to win higher wages and union representation,” she says.
During the 2016 election, it was UNITE HERE members – housekeepers, cooks, cocktail waitresses, food servers, bellmen and porters – who led one of the toughest and best-trained grassroots field operations in the country, helping win Nevada for Democrats. Another decades-long effort focused on increasing Latino turnout in Arizona also has shown signs of turning a staunchly red state blue, thanks to organizing diligence.
Prior to her current role with UNITE HERE, Maria Elena was appointed the first woman executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, which represents 600,000 workers, many of whom are immigrants and Latinos. She also served on the national AFL-CIO Executive Council.
“No one disputes that inspiring people is important. But those of us who were trained by Cesar Chavez know that he didn’t organize people with his iconic ‘Si se puede’ message. Cesar taught organizers to live by other words… ‘One by one by one.’”
Maria Elena Durazo is a renowned labor leader who has served on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) as a vice chair since 2013. She is also the General Vice President for Immigration, Civil Rights and Diversity with UNITE HERE, a union representing 270,000 hospitality workers across North America. Learn more at www.MEDforDNC.org.