Navigation Bar

Home -> UE News -> 1999 Archives -> Article

Iowa Local Defends Jobs
Through Political Action


Xpert ... X'd!

State income maintenance workers, members of UE Local 893, Iowa United Professionals, are hailing the Vilsack Administration’s decision June 11 to officially terminate the X-PERT computer system. Six weeks earlier, under pressure from the union, the state legislature withdrew funding for the project.

"The most important aspect of our victory over X-PERT is that we demonstrated that it is possible to impact our working conditions by political action," declared Local Vice Pres. Bill Austin.

X-PERT was intended to streamline the determination of eligibility and benefits for the public assistance, Medicaid and food stamp programs administered by the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS).


"They tried to pass this off at first as a tool that would be beneficial to the workers. It just wasn’t true," Austin told the UE NEWS. "Our opposition was based mostly on that it was causing problems, that it wouldn’t work under its present form."

In leaflets and letters to state legislators, Local 893 blasted X-PERT as "poorly designed, ineffective technology" that if successfully implemented could have led to loss of jobs and privatization.

"Part of the problem with X-PERT is that they were putting out what was pretty much a project that was still in the developmental phase, expecting us to work through it, expecting us to redefine their computer system for them," Austin said.

Pilot projects were unsuccessful, Austin said; DHS repeatedly pledged that the system would not be implemented until it was fully operational. Then in 1997, borrowing from the private sector, DHS adopted a "Just In Time" philosophy and attempted to introduce a product which front-line workers knew was far from being completed.


X-PERT was implemented for programs dealing with the elderly and disabled population, including nursing homes and Medicaid. Although implemented on a statewide basis, only 25 percent of staff were using the computer software when the system crashed for the last time.

"After nearly 10 years and more than six million dollars, the system still does not work," the union said in January when DHS postponed until this summer an X-PERT upgrade already delayed since October.

That delay gave the UE local an opportunity to press the new state administration and legislators to derail the program.

"The credit really belongs to everyone who contacted their legislators with the facts about X-PERT," Austin said in a June 23 letter to income maintenance workers. "Now that we have succeeded in stopping further implementation of this piece of technology it is time to review where we are and more importantly, devise a strategy for the future."

Remember, Austin added, "The job you save may be your own."

UE News - 07/99

Home -> UE News -> 1999 Archives -> Article

Home • About UE • Organize! • Independent Unions • Search • Site Guide • What's New • Contact UE
UE News • Political Action • Info for Workers • Resources • Education • Health & Safety • International • Links

Copyright © 2003 UE. All Rights Reserved