Johnsen began his IAM career in Local 1781 as a Mechanic Assistant for United Airlines in 1988 and was promoted to Mechanic in 1990. He served in many positions at the local and district level and was appointed as Assistant General Chairperson for District 141M in 2000, then as a Grand Lodge Special Representative in 2001.
Johnsen served as a Transportation Department Grand Lodge Representative and has been an IAM member for more than 33 years. He also served as the IAM Representatives Association (IAMRA) President from 2017-2021.
In February 2021, Johnsen was appointed Special Assistant to the International President. In June 2021, Johnsen was appointed Chief of Staff to the International President. On May 1, 2022, Richard Johnsen joined the IAM Executive Council as General Vice President of the Air Transport Territory.
Johnsen serves on the boards of the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department (TTD), United Airlines, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), and the Cooperating Railway Labor Organizations (CRLO).