Unifor says Lana Payne has been elected as the new president of Canada's largest private sector union, the first woman to hold the position.

Payne, previously National Secretary-Treasurer of Unifor, defeated Scott Doherty, executive assistant to the president, and Dave Cassidy, president of Unifor Local 444.

Payne has also served as Atlantic regional director at Unifor and president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour.

The leadership vote came after former national president Jerry Dias stepped down in March and was later charged with violating the code of ethics and democratic practices of the union's constitution.

Dias had long been the face of Unifor, leading the union since 2013 and reelected in 2016 and 2019.

Unifor, with more than 315,000 members, represents workers in a wide range of industries including manufacturing, aviation, forestry, energy, and telecoms.