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
2:54 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Boeing Machinists' Plight Marks Changing Times For Labor

Boeing machinists and other supporters held a rally against the company's offer the day before the critical vote, which took place in early January.
Ashley Gross KPLU

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 5:36 pm

The mood at the Seattle union hall was quiet, almost funereal on the night Boeing workers narrowly approved an offer to build the company's new airliner, the 777X.

Members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers who had gathered had wanted to reject the offer. But they were in a tight spot. They risked losing the bid to one of the 21 states hoping to step in.

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Business
8:47 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Embattled Local Leader Of The Machinists Union Announces Resignation

Machinists union president Tom Wroblewski speak at a signing event for legislation to help keep production of Boeing's new 777X in Washington, Monday, Nov. 11, 2013, at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Citing health concerns and two hospital stays brought on by stress connected to the Boeing 777x contract extension proposal, the embattled local leader of the machinists' union says he'll resign at the end of the month. 

Tom Wroblewski, 59, has been president of District Lodge 751 of the machinists' union since 2007. Prior to the post, he served as a grievance coordinator as well as a business representative for the union, with assignments throughout the Puget Sound region. 

The experience of the 777X contract proposal "changed my perspective on work-life balance," Wroblewski said in a statement. "Your job should not destroy your health."

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Business
11:02 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Forecast for Pierce County's Economy in 2014: Partly Sunny

It’s taking longer for Pierce County to bounce back from the recession than counties to the north, such as King and Snohomish. But economists at Pacific Lutheran University expect the economy in Tacoma and the region to show some improvement this year. 

PLU economists Martin Wurm and Neal Johnson have been crunching the numbers on everything from Pierce County’s housing market to retail sales to come up with an economic forecast. 

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Minimum Wage
3:26 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Airport Workers Urge Port Commission To Adopt $15 Min. Wage Passed By Voters

In this Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013 photo, wheelchair attendants Erick Conley, left, and Sesilia Vaitele assist a pair of passengers heading to an overseas flight at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, in SeaTac, Wash.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Airport workers are urging Port of Seattle commissioners to adopt the $15 per hour minimum wage that voters in the city of SeaTac passed last November. 

The Port of Seattle, which oversees the seaport as well as Sea-Tac International Airport, argued in court late last year that it doesn’t fall under the jurisdiction of the SeaTac minimum wage initiative. King County Judge Andrea Darvas agreed, and as a result, baggage handlers, cabin cleaners and other airport workers who had been hoping for a jump in pay at the beginning of this year haven’t gotten one.

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Machinists Vote
10:04 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

Local Machinists Narrowly Approve Boeing's Best And Final Offer For 777X Work

A volunteer vote counter tallies ballots Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, at the Boeing machinists union hall in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

Local machinists narrowly approved Boeing’s “best and final” offer that guarantees assembly of the next 777 wide-body jet and the fabrication of the plane's carbon-fiber wing for the Puget Sound region.

Some 30,000 local machinists accepted the deal with a 51-percent vote, said International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers spokesman Jim Bearden late Friday.

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Boeing Decision
6:46 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

On Eve Of Union Vote, Machinists Protest Boeing's Latest Offer

Ashley Gross

Several hundred Boeing machinists and supporters gathered in a Seattle union hall Thursday to urge members to reject Boeing’s contract offer.

The rally came on the eve of a crucial vote on what Boeing has called its best and final offer. Acceptance of the labor deal by some 30,000 local machinists would guarantee 777 assembly work for the Puget Sound area.

But local union leaders are urging members to reject the offer, saying the workers are asked to make concessions even though the company is having a profitable run.

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Life Reinvented
5:00 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Seattle Architect Giving Up Designing Million-Dollar Houses To Help The Homeless

Cindy Hohlbein

Rex Hohlbein had been designing luxurious homes for more than two decades when his life began to shift.

He began inviting homeless people into the office of his architecture firm to warm up, use the bathroom and get a cup of coffee. Pretty soon, he found it hard to spend his days designing million-dollar homes when he was meeting so many people he found sleeping in tents or under a doorway.

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Boeing Decision
12:05 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

Boeing Machinists Will Vote On Company's Contract Offer

Machinists rally to urge their union to bring the offer to a vote
Ashley Gross KPLU

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story stated voting will take place on Jan. 3. However, according to a spokesman for the union's international headquarters, the exact date is still being finalized.

Local Boeing machinists will have a chance to vote on the company's "best and final" offer, the acceptance of which would guarantee assembly of the next 777 wide-body jet and the fabrication of the plane's carbon-fiber wing for the Puget Sound region.  

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Boeing Decision
4:35 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Shouting Machinists Disagree Over Whether To Vote on Boeing's Latest Offer

James White, a machinist of 17 years, says Boeing's latest offer is unacceptable.
Ashley Gross

Tempers are running high among Boeing machinists as the company evaluates potential sites to build the next 777 jet. That became evident at a small rally outside the machinists' union hall in Everett Wednesday. 

Machinists who want to push their union leaders to let them vote on the company's last contract offer organized the rally and said about 80 people would show up. But they only drew about 40. That group marched to the union hall from the company's Everett factory chanting "Give us a voice!" About  a dozen counter-protesters arrived, yelling, "We already voted!"

The rally turned into a shouting match, with the two sides arguing about things like whether a 401(k) is a good retirement plan. One shouted that he suspected voter fraud in the union's November vote over Boeing's labor proposal.

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Boeing Machinists
5:28 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Local Boeing Worker Files Unfair Labor Practice Charge Against Union

FILE - This May 17, 2011 file photo, shows a Boeing 737 iat the Boeing Co. assembly facility in Renton, Wash.
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

A Boeing worker in Renton has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the machinists union.

Timothy Limestall says local leaders of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers failed to provide enough information about Boeing’s contract extension offer that members voted on last month.

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Boeing Decision
10:36 pm
Sun December 15, 2013

Boeing Machinists Say They'll Ask NLRB To Help Force A Vote

Boeing's 777 assembly line in Everett
Ashley Gross KPLU

Some Boeing machinists angry at their union leaders plan to ask for help from the National Labor Relations Board.

They’re upset that local leaders from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers turned down Boeing’s best and final offer without putting it to members for a vote. The offer would have secured assembly of the next 777 jet in Washington state along with the carbon-fiber wing fabrication. 

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Boeing Decision
10:35 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Schism In Machinists' Union Leaves Boeing Offer Up In The Air

Boeing machinists in Washington state are trying to figure out whether they'll have a chance to vote on an offer the company made Thursday that would guarantee production of the 777X wide-body jet in the Puget Sound region. 

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Business
1:31 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Boeing to Reduce Research and Tech Jobs in Wash. State by as Many as 1,200

File image
Reed Saxon Associated Press

Boeing says its research and technology workforce in Washington state will probably shrink by as many as 1,200 jobs as the company shifts work to other states including Alabama, Missouri and South Carolina.

The news comes on a day when many people in Washington are waiting to hear whether Boeing will accept a preliminary contract proposal from the machinists’ union. The union is seeking to reach an agreement with the company that would guarantee production of the next 777 jet in the Puget Sound region, securing thousands of jobs.

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budget negotiations
8:26 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Murray: Budget Deal Better than Sequestration for Wash. State

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., left, and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash.
J. Scott Applewhite Associated Press

Sen. Patty Murray says the deal she reached with Republican Rep. Paul Ryan will spare Washington state residents from another round of across-the-board budget cuts—welcome news to researchers at the University of Washington.

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Boeing Decision
12:37 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Union Leaders: Machinists Make Labor Proposal to Boeing

Boeing's 777 assembly line in Everett
Ashley Gross KPLU

The machinists’ union has presented a labor proposal to the Boeing Company, local union leaders said late Wednesday afternoon. 

The details of the proposal have not been released. The union made the announcement after an hours-long meeting with Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Ray Conner and other company executives Wednesday, raising hopes that the two sides may strike an agreement to build the next 777 wide-body jet in the Puget Sound region.

“We tried to craft a proposal that would meet the needs of our members, while also ensuring the long-term success of the Boeing Co. in Washington state,” said Tom Wroblewski, the president of Machinists Union District Lodge 751, in a statement. The union said it expects a response from Boeing by Thursday.

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