Ashley Gross

Business and Labor Reporter

Ashley Gross is KPLU's business and labor reporter, covering everything from Amazon.com and Boeing to garbage strikes. She joined the station in May 2012 after working for five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.

She studied history at Brown University and earned a master's in international affairs at Columbia University. She grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She lives in West Seattle with her husband and two sons.

One of Ashley's most memorable moments in radio happened several years ago in Northwest Alaska: "I was visiting an alcohol and drug rehab program in the tiny village of Selawik. It helps Alaska Natives recover by helping them get back in touch with their subsistence lifestyle. It was spring, which meant the river was still frozen - barely. We went out on snowmachines to go ice-fishing, but late in the day, as we headed back, the river had melted to the consistency of a Slurpee. It was a harrowing ride and a good lesson in trust - I rode with my eyes closed, clinging for dear life to the woman driving. A week later, three people drowned trying to ride a snowmachine over that river, and that's when I realized just how dangerous life in rural Alaska can be."

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Business
8:54 am
Wed December 12, 2012

National Federation of the Blind to protest at Amazon.com

Blind people say Amazon's Kindle devices and apps lack functions that they need
thekellyscope

Update: An Amazon.com spokeswoman did return my call after this story aired, but declined to comment.

Blind people – including former New York Governor David Paterson – are planning to protest at Amazon.com today. They want the company to make its Kindle device and apps more accessible to the visually impaired, especially kids as e-readers start to be used in schools. 

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Business
7:29 am
Fri December 7, 2012

Picket training begins as SPEEA preps for a possible Boeing strike

Ashley Gross KPLU

Contract talks between Boeing and its engineers union are suspended till after the new year. But the union, SPEEA, is not standing still - they're training picket captains for a possible strike.

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Business
8:54 am
Wed December 5, 2012

Would you work harder if you owned a slice of the company?

Workers own and run the Arizmendi bakery chain in the San Francisco Bay Area
Premshree Pillai

Disputes between workers and management have dominated headlines lately – the Hostess bakery shutdown, protests at Walmart, engineers pitted against Boeing.

But there is another business model that promises greater harmony – worker-owned cooperatives. A team of filmmakers from Whidbey Island, Melissa  Young and Mark Dworkin, has just released a documentary about worker-owned businesses called Shift Change. It screens Thursday night in Seattle at Pacific Place Theater. Young spoke with KPLU about the film.

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Politics
7:20 am
Tue December 4, 2012

Seattle city council president says state may have to raise taxes to fund schools

The president of the Seattle City Council says the state needs to make sure it adequately funds schools – and that may mean the state has to raise taxes. 

The state of Washington faces a grim budget deficit – more than $2.5 billion over the next two years, by one estimate. At the same time, the state also has to boost money for schools, according to a state supreme court decision.

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Politics
5:00 am
Tue December 4, 2012

Tacoma residents face cuts to everything from library hours to fire service

Tacoma’s City Council will vote this afternoon to slash the city budget by 15 percent - with cuts to pretty much everything, including the police and fire departments.

City Manager T.C. Broadnax took the job in February from San Antonio, Texas. He says he knew Tacoma had some cutting to do – but as he dug into the numbers, he realized spending was deeply out of whack and anticipated revenue was not there.

The housing slump continues to hurt property tax revenue,and  money from sales tax hasn’t bounced back. Broadnax says Tacoma had been trying to put off cuts for years.

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Business
12:35 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Boeing wants a federal mediator to help with SPEEA talks

SPEEA members rejected an earlier contract offer from Boeing by 96 percent.
The Associated Press

After months of unsuccessful contract negotiations, Boeing says it wants a federal mediator to help resolve its contract dispute with SPEEA, the union that represents about 23,000 engineers and technicians in the Puget Sound region.

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Business
3:31 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

Microsoft shareholders ask: Why should we own the stock?

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is trying to assure investors the company has a bright future
The CBI

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer stood in front of shareholders today telling them what a tremendous year it’s been. But they wanted to know, why should we own the stock?

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Business
5:00 am
Mon November 26, 2012

Would Microsoft or Amazon.com buy Netflix? Doubtful, analyst says

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings says he wants to keep his company independent
JD Lasica

Amazon.com and Microsoft are two of the cash-rich companies that investors speculate may be interested in buying Netflix. But would either of them want to? One analyst says he doubts it.

Activist investor Carl Icahn kicked up the takeover speculation last month when he disclosed that he’s bought 10 percent of Netflix. He says Netflix is too small on its own and needs to be bought by a bigger company – like Amazon, Microsoft or Google.

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Business
5:00 am
Thu November 22, 2012

Black Friday shoppers motivated by family tradition, thrill of the 'hunt'

djLicious

Some shoppers are gearing up to hit the stores this evening for Black Friday sales that have now crept into Thursday. Sears and Walmart are starting their sales at 8 pm, and Target at 9 pm. But what motivates people to brave the Black Friday shopping frenzy?

Jane Boyd Thomas is a marketing professor at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She wanted to understand the ritual of Black Friday shopping – why some people have turned it into a family tradition.

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Business
4:43 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

Boeing engineers inch closer to a strike after 'disappointing' second contract offer

The union representing Boeing engineers is moving closer to a strike authorization. That’s because union leadership is frustrated with the aerospace giant’s second contract offer.

Boeing is now offering higher annual wage increases than its first proposal, which 96 percent of engineers and technicians rejected. But the increases are still lower than the current contract. That’s one reason the union – known as SPEEA – is disappointed.

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Business
3:11 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

Magnets, choking hazards top annual report on dangerous toys

Plastic toy food can still pose a choking hazard, even if it meets federal guidelines, says WashPIRG
Ashley Gross KPLU

As parents gear up to shop for the holidays, a non-profit consumer group is warning them to watch out for dangerous toys.

For the past 27 years, the Washington Public Interest Research Group, or WashPIRG, has released a report on toxic and hazardous toys. This year, the group is pointing to many toys that meet federal standards but still pose a danger.

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Politics
4:39 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

Bus riders in Pierce County face drastic cuts after sales tax proposition fails

Oran Viriyincy

Bus riders all over the Puget Sound region are coping with cuts in service, but Pierce County is facing something much more drastic.

If you don’t have a car in Pierce County, you may be homebound on the weekends and after 7 pm. That’s because voters have now – for the second time – rejected a sales tax increase. Pierce Transit will likely have to cut service in half.

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Business
3:48 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Washington companies hope U.S. passes Russian trade bill

Washington farmers could sell more food to Russia if the trade bill passes
mekiaries

Everyone from Boeing to fish processors and apple growers stands to benefit if the U.S. normalizes trade relations with Russia. That’s coming up for a vote Friday in the House of Representatives.

Russia joined the World Trade Organization in August and lowered a whole bunch of tariffs on things like airplanes and fish.

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Business
4:51 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

Vulcan proposes affordable housing land deal in South Lake Union

seadevi

Paul Allen’s real estate company Vulcan wants to give the city of Seattle land in the South Lake Union neighborhood. In exchange, the company wants the right to build taller towers.

The Seattle city council is working to rezone the South Lake Union neighborhood to allow taller buildings. That’s something Vulcan very much wants. The city requires developers to either build affordable units in their towers or pay the city extra money for affordable housing if they build above a certain height.

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Politics
5:00 am
Tue November 13, 2012

Senator Patty Murray says going over the 'fiscal cliff' is an option

Now that the election is over, Washington, D.C. has turned its focus to averting the so-called fiscal cliff. But Washington Senator Patty Murray says going over the cliff should be an option.

The fiscal cliff refers to the Bush-era tax cuts that expire at the end of the year and the deep spending cuts that will take place. Senator Murray has been saying for some time now that Democrats shouldn’t be too afraid of the fiscal cliff.

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