Maria Elena Durazo, widow of Los Angeles County Labor Federation chief Miguel Contreras, was formally named to his old post as executive secretary-treasurer late Monday.

Durazo, 53, had been serving as interim labor chief since the resignation earlier this year of Martin Ludlow, who has pleaded guilty to campaign law violations related to his successful 2003 Los Angeles City Council campaign. He is serving a three-year probation.

Durazo was widely regarded as the front-runner for the permanent post as the federation's delegates voted on Monday. Her term expires in 2010.

She is also the first woman to head the labor federation, which is comprised of 350 union locals representing about 850,000 union members.

"I have such a great amount of respect for the labor movement," Durazo said. "It's really a blessing for me, both professionally and personally to be elected as the new executive secretary-treasurer."

Prior to stepping in as interim executive secretary-treasurer of the labor federation in March, Durazo served 17 years as president of the hotel workers union UNITE-HERE Local 11. During that time, she restructured the union, focusing it on the needs of the mostly-immigrant hotel workforce.

It was as an organizer for the hotel workers union that Durazo met her husband, Miguel Contreras. When Contreras assumed the labor federation's top post in the late 1990s, the two were known as labor's power couple in Los Angeles. Contreras died of heart attack last May.

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