Soldier's Job Saved From OC Cuts

SANTA ANA, Calif. -- A soldier in Iraq lost his job back home because of Orange County's economic woes -- but not for long.

Aaron Phelps is a social service worker at the county-run Orangewood Children's Home. This week, his wife was notified that the Army reservist was among 210 social workers whose jobs will be eliminated by Jan. 19 as Orange County tries to cover a $32 million budget deficit.

Jennifer Phelps was furious.

"While Aaron is watching the front lines, we here at the county have shot him in the back," she said.

But her husband's layoff was brief. County Chief Executive Officer heard about the situation, called the human resources department and rescinded the action. Mauk also said the county's layoff policy has been amended.

"No active veteran is subject to layoff, period," Mauk said. "We have a higher duty ethically and morally to those who are fighting to defend our country, and we will retain their positions."

"I'm thrilled," Jennifer Phelps said Tuesday. "Now he can focus on his task, which is to get home safely."


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The other social workers will be laid off, however, and the county also is preparing to furlough all 4,218 employees of the Social Services Agency.

A plan to be presented to county supervisors next week will require them to take 80 hours of unpaid leave over the course of a year, Mauk said.

That will save up to 600 jobs, he said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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