Members of the nation's largest public employees union cast their lot behind the man most likely to continue the policies of his predecessor, who stepped down after 31 years at the helm.

Lee Saunders, the secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, won 54 percent of the vote at the union's convention in Los Angeles on Thursday where delegates representing over 1.2 million union voters cast their votes.

Saunders will replace Gerald McEntee, 76, and is expected to follow the same policies that helped keep his boss in good standing with the union for so long.

Losing candidate Danny Donohue, who represents the New York City Civil Service Employee Association, the largest AFSCME local, had criticized the current union leadership for being too focused on funneling money to national political supporters at the expense of localized initiatives.

Laura Reyes also won on Thursday to replace Saunders as the head of the union's coffer, beating Alice Goff by 57,789 votes.