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
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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Business
7:54 am
Fri November 9, 2012

Nordstrom sales and profit climb, but earnings miss analyst estimates

Bill Holmes

Nordstrom says profit and sales climbed in the most recent quarter, although earnings came in just below what analysts predicted.

Nordstrom says men’s shoes, men’s apparel and kids’ clothes did especially well. Morningstar analyst Paul Swinand says the company’s also doing well online. He says brick-and-mortar retailers like Nordstrom may have been late to the game but they’re reaping the benefits of e-commerce.

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2012 Elections
1:17 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Same-sex marriage foes concede; marriage industry gearing up

The marriage industry in British Columbia is worried business will wan after Tuesday's elections.
Nimataradji photography Flickr

Foes of the same-sex marriage referendum in Washington have conceded the law will pass. The group that sponsored Referendum 74 declared victory yesterday.

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Politics
10:03 am
Thu November 8, 2012

Federal government will likely try to block marijuana law, expert says

Now that voters have legalized recreational marijuana in Washington state, the question is whether the federal government will sue to block it. One legal expert says he expects a court challenge.

Washington’s initiative 502 doesn’t just legalize possession of small quantities of marijuana. It sets up a system for licensing cultivation and sale of the drug and then imposes a tax system. Sam Kamin is a professor of law at the University of Denver. He says he thinks the federal government will determine that Washington’s law is going too far and will challenge it in court.

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Marijuana legalization
9:44 am
Wed November 7, 2012

Feds expected to battle Washington, Colorado over legal marijuana

"The Department of Justice's enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged," read identical statements issued by the U.S. attorney's offices in Denver and Seattle.
The Associated Press

Washington joined Colorado in voting to become the first states to legalize and tax the sale of marijuana for recreational use, but people shouldn't expect to be able to buy a bag of legitimate weed any time soon.

Nor should they expect the law to go into effect with out a fight with federal law agencies, said Sam Kamin, professor of law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

“My gut feeling is that the federal government won’t currently tolerate the commercial recreational sale of marijuana, that is they will not allow it to be regulated like alcohol. That just seems a bridge too far,” he said.

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Politics
3:01 pm
Tue November 6, 2012

Obama, Romney sugar cookies sell briskly

Even the Obama display cookie got sold
Ashley Gross KPLU

People in Seattle City Hall live and breathe politics. For the past few months, they’ve also been able to eat politics. Obama and Romney sugar cookies have been selling well at the City Grind Espresso stand at Seattle City Hall, although owner Jon Streeter says there hasn't been quite the same hype as in 2008.

"They've been steady, and I think there are more places to get them, so I think overall they're probably  selling as well, but for us they're not nearly the big deal they were four years ago," Streeter said.

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Politics
8:33 am
Tue November 6, 2012

Do you miss voting in person?

Voting in Boise, Idaho, in 2008.
Big Dubya Flickr

This is the first presidential election in which no one in Washington is voting in a voting booth. Lots of people prefer voting by mail – it’s convenient, they don’t have to rush from work to get to the polls before they close. But in downtown Seattle, KPLU found lots of people who wax nostalgic for the good old days of voting in person - among them, Terri Vail, Antonio Hicks, Brad Bloomquist, and Peter Orange.

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