UAW regional director accused of sexual harassment resigns

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Richard Rankin, a member of the United Auto Workers' governing International Executive Board, on Tuesday resigned from his position, and the union withdrew charges under the UAW constitution against him that included allegations of sexual and sex-based harassment and retaliation.

Rankin, Region 2B director covering Indiana and Ohio, is the UAW's third executive board member to resign in less than a year amid an ongoing federal investigation into union corruption.

Richard Rankin

Separate from that probe, the union commissioned an independent examination of complaints against Rankin. The review "substantiated allegations of workplace harassment," the union said in March when its board submitted charges under Article 30 of the UAW constitution in an attempt to remove him. Rankin was suspended from his he role. He denied the charges.

"The International Union, UAW and Region 2B Director Richard Rankin have reached a resolution that includes the UAW International Union withdrawing with prejudice the Article 30 charges and Director Rankin resigning from his position as Regional Director and as an employee of the International Union," the UAW said Tuesday in a joint statement with Rankin.

"Director Rankin’s resignation was a personal decision and does not reflect an admission of any kind. Director Rankin is proud of the work that he has performed advocating for workplace rights of men and women in Region 2B over two decades in various UAW leadership positions."

A hearing required by Article 30 before a 12-member jury of UAW delegates scheduled for this week has been canceled.

The independent review on Rankin's conduct, according to the charges obtained by The Detroit News, found he made a "sexually violent threat" to a woman in the workplace in 2015 in response to complaints about inappropriate jokes and comments he had made. The comments "went beyond 'shop talk,'" and inappropriate remarks were corroborated by witnesses or admitted to by Rankin, according to the charges. 

Rankin's resignation follows the exits in November of Gary Jones, former UAW president, and Vance Pearson, former director of the now-dissolved Region 5 that covered the southwest states. Both have been convicted in the years-long federal investigation for their roles in a racketeering conspiracy that helped embezzle more than $1.5 million in union funds spent on personal luxuries for labor leaders.

Rankin was not the only executive board member to be accused of sexual harassment. A female UAW staff member in May filed a sexual harassment lawsuit in federal court against the union and three UAW leaders, including Gerald Kariem, UAW vice president and director of the union's Ford Motor Co. Department.

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble