RIBCO members are the mainstay of a talented, professional, and dedicated work force here at the ACI. The commitment displayed, day in and day out, by our members, results in a work force, which has demonstrated the ability to overcome adversity, while still accomplishing their mission of public safety for the citizens of our state.
The men and women who wear Rhode Island's Gray, and the support staff, who enter our facilities daily, are consummate professionals. Their efforts in our cellblocks, modules and dormitories have made Rhode Island's prison system one of the finest in the country.
The Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correctional Officers' union (RIBCO) was born out of necessity in 1971. In an era of perpetual inmate unrest and violent challenges to their authority inside the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI), in Cranston, beleaguered correctional officers decided to take matters into their own hands and form their own union - essentially to safeguard their own safety.
Over the years since the union's formation, RIBCO has negotiated a series of collective bargaining agreements with the State of RI to improve their working conditions and salary and benefits package. The union has also worked with the RI General Assembly on legislation to bolster and protect the union's rights and working conditions, education and training needs, and overdue recognition as law enforcement professionals on a par equal with police and sheriffs statewide.
RIBCO's relations with RI Department of Corrections' management and the State have often been contentious, and contract negotiations protracted. During the 1990's, for example, the union worked without a contract for a number of years and did not at the time receive pay raises granted to other state employees because of the impasse over the new contract. The union also fought attempts at privatization inside the ACI and a subsequent State attempt at creating privately run halfway houses around the state for inmates transitioning back to society.
As the ACI prison population has increased during the past decade, so too has the ranks of the union, which now totals around 1,300 members, comprising rank and file officers, stewards, inmate industries' supervisors, office personnel, and medical and social work professionals.
While RIBCO has successfully advanced the interests and needs of its members over the years, and infused a high degree of professionalism in its ranks while helping to operate a vastly improved correctional institution over the dangerous circumstances of the 1970s, the union has been increasingly forced in recent years to resist State challenges over its bargaining rights and authority - challenges designed to rollback some of its hard-won victories.
Rest assured, the union's elected leadership, representing those "who work the toughest beat in the state," will continue to fight for its members' rights and benefits.