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ENTERTAINMENT
December 26, 2013 | By Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
Sometimes the past trips you up. It certainly does Frank, the escaped con played by Josh Brolin in Jason Reitman's new drama, "Labor Day. " It definitely unravels Adele, the reclusive single mother Kate Winslet makes so fragile. It is already a defining factor for 13-year-old Henry, played by newcomer Gattlin Griffith, by the time Frank comes into their lives. What I didn't anticipate is the way the past might trip up the filmmaker. "Labor Day" is only Reitman's fifth movie, but one of the distinguishing features in his films - from 2006's "Thank You for Smoking" through "Juno" in 2007, "Up in the Air" in 2009 and 2011's "Young Adult" - is how carefully constructed they are. The dialogue may be loose, the characters quite frequently a mess, but the progression of the film from beginning to end, and the narrative links, are always solid.
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BUSINESS
December 16, 2013 | By Ricardo Lopez
U.S. worker productivity jumped in the third quarter, increasing by 3%, the largest increase in nearly four years, the Labor Department reported Monday.   The gain is revision from a previous preliminary reading of 1.9%.  Overall, the country's economic outlook has improved sharply in recent weeks amid a string of surprisingly robust economic data: Businesses have stepped up hiring, new factory orders from abroad are at a two-year high and consumers have been buying cars and eating out at restaurants.
TRAVEL
December 13, 2013 | By Michael Mello
SONOITA, Ariz. - Images of emerald grape leaves waving in the summer breeze usually don't fill the pages of Arizona tourism brochures and magazines. Still, they're becoming a more common sight as Arizona's young wine industry grows. That's right: Wine is made in Arizona. I had the same reaction when friends told me about Sonoita, a tiny crossroads about an hour southeast of Tucson, in the southeastern corner of the state brimming with young fields of Mourvèdre and Tempranillo.
BUSINESS
December 13, 2013 | By Ricardo Lopez
Californians' view of organized labor has soured over the past two and a half years: 45% of those surveyed in a poll released Friday said unions do more harm than good, up from 35% in a March 2011 reading.  The results of the independent Field Poll showed a stark shift in public opinion in California, long a labor union stronghold. Even those who identify as Democrats or have union affiliations reported their views on labor unions taking a turn for the worse.  The poll of 1,002 registered voters was conducted between Nov. 14 and Dec. 5 and also found that recent public transit worker strikes in the Bay Area, which disrupted commuters' workdays, affected the public's opinion.  Statewide, 47% of voters said public transit workers should be allowed to strike versus 44% who said they should not.  "Voters in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area...
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 12, 2013 | By David Zahniser
A Los Angeles employee relations officer delivered a stinging defeat to the city's labor leaders Thursday, saying that they failed to meet a procedural deadline for challenging a hotly contested rollback in public employee pension benefits. Hearing Officer Luella Nelson recommended that the Employee Relations Board, a five-member panel that decides labor disputes at City Hall, dismiss a challenge to the City Council's decision to cut pension pay for employees hired after July 1. Council members voted to scale back pension benefits and increase the retirement age in October 2012.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 12, 2013 | By Glenn Whipp
Josh Brolin plays an escaped convict who reawakens the sensual side of a withdrawn single mother (Kate Winslet) in Jason Reitman's lovely romance, "Labor Day," which will play a one-week awards qualifying run starting Dec. 27 before opening in theaters Jan. 31. Over a leisurely lunch, Brolin, one of Hollywood's great interviews, talked about the role and its challenges and being considered for "Batman. " Reitman says he had to "re-learn" his filmmaking process for "Labor Day," moving from relying on talk to an emphasis on stillness.
BUSINESS
December 7, 2013 | By Jim Puzzanghera
WASHINGTON - A surprisingly robust gain in new jobs last month helped drop the unemployment rate to a five-year low, fueling optimism about the nation's economic recovery and raising the prospect that the government may finally start to ease a key stimulus effort this month. In its report Friday, the Labor Department said that the nation's employers added 203,000 non-farm jobs in November and that a large part of them were higher-paying positions. The unemployment rate fell to 7%, the lowest since November 2008.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 5, 2013 | By Seema Mehta
Labor leaders backed striking Los Angeles County social workers at a raucous rally near downtown Thursday morning, underscoring the seriousness of the first county employee walk-out in more than a decade. Union officials are trying to keep the focus on the social worker caseload issue that is one of two major sticking points in a stalled contract negotiation between the county and its largest public-employee union. “Nobody, nobody ever jumps at the chance to go out on strike,” said Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the county Federation of Labor, speaking to a few hundred picketing workers from the bed of a flatbed truck outside the Metro North office of the county Department of Children and Family Services in the Historic South-Central district.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 3, 2013 | By Seema Mehta
Los Angeles County social workers plan to strike Thursday if progress is not made toward lowering their caseloads, according to sources familiar with the ongoing bargaining but who were not authorized to discuss the negotiations publicly. The news comes as the Service Employees International Union Local 721 -- the county's largest public-employee union, representing 55,000 workers  -- announced significant progress in negotiations in an email to its members. Union employees have been working without a contract for more than two months Both sides have agreed on the county covering increased 2014 premiums for most healthcare plans, as well as a 6% raise that most of the county's other unions have already agreed to, a $500 bonus in 2014 and $400,000 in ride-share subsidies, according to the email.
NATIONAL
December 3, 2013 | By Alana Semuels and Michael Muskal
After a federal judge ruled Tuesday that Detroit was eligible for bankruptcy protection and cleared the way for municipal pensions to be cut, city officials were upbeat, called for unity and urged residents to look ahead with optimism. But for the city's employee unions, whose members, current and retired, are likely to face benefit reductions, the decision signaled the start of a new legal round - their appeal of the ruling to a higher court. The disparate reactions were symptomatic of what lies ahead for Detroit.
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