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Kevin McCaffrey faces challenge in union election

Suffolk Legis. Kevin McCaffrey, left, also Teamsters Local

Suffolk Legis. Kevin McCaffrey, left, also Teamsters Local 707 president, is seen with Sen. Chuck Schumer, Rep. Peter King and union members on Jan. 2 in Hempstead. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Suffolk County Legis. Kevin McCaffrey may not have to run for his seat this year, but he is facing a challenge for re-election as president of Teamsters Local 707 from George Ford, after surviving a disputed contest in 2015.

Ford, 55, a 25-year union member, said he is running to lead the 2,000-member local because he still is upset about how the election was conducted three years ago. Ford ran for vice president and his side initially won. But the union joint council called for a revote because about 150 union members failed to get ballots.

Ford criticized McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst) for trying to do the job of a county legislator, which Ford said cuts into his full time job as union leader. He also attacks McCaffrey for allegedly mishandling the union’s pension fund.

The pension issue arose when many unionized trucking companies went out of business and the 2008 Wall Street crash created a shortage in benefits funds to pay members.

McCaffrey, who has led the union since 2000, said he lobbied successfully to change a federal law that barred benefit reductions even when funds become depleted.

“I believe people see me as more the solution, rather than the problem,” McCaffrey said.

McCaffrey also noted that the last time he ran for the union presidency, he was embroiled in tough legislative battle against Democrat Timothy Sini, who has since become Suffolk County district attorney.

McCaffrey and Ford expressed confidence in their chances in the election contest, which starts Thursday with nomination and ends with the vote count on Oct. 18.

“I’ve been doing my leg work and I believe have a lot of support,” said Ford.

McCaffrey noted he won by a “comfortable margin” in the revote in 2015, when turnout nearly doubled from 550. But he said, “This election has my undivided attention. I’m reaching out to make sure people come out and vote, and I believe I will be elected again.”

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