Richard O. Charette
Cushing-Gavin Award Recipient
Labor Award, 2015
Watching Rick Charette skillfully navigate years of demanding situations, a close colleague noted: “When I look at Rick, what I see is a lion of labor.”
Rick rose through the ranks to lead UFCW 1445, which represents 15,000 workers across Northeast New England from such diverse sectors as Stop & Shop, Macy’s, hospitals, nursing homes, laundries, warehouses, TD Garden, Coca Cola Bottling plants. In 2013, Rick was appointed a UFCW International Vice President.
Rick’s labor career began in 1968 as a young member of Boston’s Packinghouse Local 616. After a 2-year military leave, including service in Viet Nam, Rick was awarded a Bronze Star with a V device for valor.
Returning to that Boston packinghouse in 1971, Rick became a steward and executive board member. Rick was Local 616’s President from 1975 through their 1984 joining with Retail Clerks Union Local 1445. A subsequent 1985 merger gave rise to today’s United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1445. Rick was 1445’s non-food and warehouse director in the early 1990s, then elected Financial Secretary Treasurer in 1997.
In 2015, Rick stepped down after 14 years as 1445’s President, and 45 years servicing the needs of hard-working men and women and their families. “I loved my job – every day of it,” Rick notes. “I loved the work, and helping folks solve real problems large and small, improve their working situations, and secure their rights on the job.“
“I’ve always liked numbers,” Rick explained. “From a young age, I was curious why some people had pensions and great healthcare, and others didn’t. I always believed that benefits are as important as wages, so I got involved in the financial end and honed my benefits knowledge as a very young officer and kept at it.”
Rick was a trustee on the $5 billion UFCW National Multi Employee Pension Fund from 2001 through July 2015. Since 1997 he’s been a trustee on the UFCW Multi Employer Interstate Health and Welfare Fund covering 20,000 lives in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. In 2001, Rick became the Chairman of the Fund and continues to chair the Fund today.
Rick and Susan, his wife of 46 years, live in Fall River and have two children, Kristen and Jason.