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UAW leader accused of sexual harassment resigns

The United Auto Workers (UAW) has for decades represented workers in labor negotiations in the auto industry, but the union also represents workers in agriculture, aerospace and publishing, among other industries. Here in Milwaukee, a UAW local represents brewery workers.

The union that has long railed against industry management has been rocked by allegations that members of its own management have engaged in sexual harassment and retaliation.

Richard Rankin, a powerful member of the UAW's governing International Executive Board, has resigned after an independent investigation of complaints of workplace sexual harassment and retaliation substantiated the allegations.

Rankin was suspended from his management role in March when the charges surfaced. He denied the claims.

A joint statement released by Rankin and the UAW leaves doubt that either one acknowledges the misconduct: "Director Rankin's resignation was a personal decision and does not reflect an admission of any kind." The statement goes on to boast that Rankin is "proud" of his work as an advocate of "workplace rights for men and women."

Yet the independent investigation found that Rankin had made a "sexually violent threat" to a woman in 2015 after complaints about his inappropriate jokes and comments in the workplace.

In May, a high-ranking female UAW officer filed a sexual harassment lawsuit in federal court against three union leaders, including the UAW's vice president. She said the men had grabbed, kissed and propositioned her in separate incidents in recent years.

That kind of unlawful workplace behavior does not have to be tolerated. If you have been subjected to sexual harassment in Milwaukee, contact the employment law attorneys of Alan C. Olson and Associates.

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