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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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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Boeing Decision
12:12 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Wash. Congressional Delegation to Boeing: Build 777X Here

Boeing's 777 assembly line in Everett
Ashley Gross KPLU

As time runs out for Washington state to make its case to Boeing that it should build its next 777 wide-body jet here, the state’s Congressional delegation is weighing in with a letter to the company’s top executives.

The lawmakers touted their support and advocacy for important issues to Boeing and their pro-aerospace voting record.

“We are the aerospace industry’s strongest allies and loudest advocates in Congress,” the letter said.

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Minimum Wage
10:44 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Workers March from SeaTac to Seattle to Push for $15 Min. Wage

Ashley Gross KPLU

Dozens of fast-food workers and activists took to the streets Thursday for a day-long march in support of $15 minimum wage.

The march began in SeaTac, where voters approved a $15 minimum wage this year, and headed for Seattle City Hall as a symbolic push for Seattle to follow SeaTac’s suit and adopt the higher wage.

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man vs. machine
5:01 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Robot Baristas? Here's Starbucks CEO Schultz's Take

Allison Moore

The coffee world has been abuzz lately with news of barista robots—machines that can custom-make a cappuccino or chai latte. Naturally, the question becomes whether the world’s largest coffee chain, Seattle-based Starbucks, would replace humans with automation. 

In a world where robots build cars, fulfill orders in Amazon warehouses and paint the wings on Boeing’s 777 jet, making a latte by machine isn’t that much of a leap.

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workers' rights
5:00 am
Fri November 29, 2013

Federal Way Worker Says He Was Illegally Fired by Walmart

Gerardo Paladan (center) protests outside Walmart headquarters in Arkansas
Abbie Blumberg Our Walmart

Protesters are descending on some 1,500 Walmart locations, including the store at Bellevue’s Factoria Mall, on this Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Joining them is a man who has been battling Walmart in Federal Way for several years over safety concerns. And now Gerardo Paladan says he was illegally terminated.

The Bellevue protest is just the latest stop for Paladan. Earlier this week, he made his seventh trip to Bentonville, Arkansas to protest at Walmart headquarters.  

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boeing decision
4:13 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Local Machinist Leader Says There's No New Offer from Boeing

Boeing's 777 assembly line in Everett, Wash.
Ashley Gross KPLU

Contrary to rumors that have been circulating among Boeing machinists in Washington state, there's been no new contract offer from the company, according to Tom Wroblewski, president of Local 751 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. 

Wroblewski, in a post published on the local's website, wrote he's had routine meetings with his counterparts at the company, but hasn't been involved in any talks that would lead to a new offer. He said he has also met with Gov. Jay Inslee and other elected officials. 

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living wage initative
12:34 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

SeaTac Voters OK $15 Minimum Wage, Opponents Request Recount

In this Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013 photo, skycap Biniyam Yehuala hefts a traveler's bag at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac, Wash.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Voters in the city of SeaTac have approved a $15 minimum wage, but opponents have already requested a recount. 

Proposition 1 passed by a slim margin of 77 votes out of 6,003 votes cast. But even before the ballots were certified Tuesday, the group Common Sense SeaTac called for a recount in the hotly-contested initiative. The group is supported by Alaska Airlines, rental car companies and airport baggage-handling businesses.

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living wage initiative
9:20 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Federal Judge Sends SeaTac Min. Wage Case Back to State Court

File image
Associated Press

A federal judge has granted the request from Alaska Airlines, the Washington Restaurant Association and a small business owner at Sea-Tac International Airport to send their case back to a Washington state court. The businesses want SeaTac's Proposition 1, which would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for some workers, to be ruled illegal. 

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living wage initiative
5:29 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Legal Challenge Could Stymie SeaTac Minimum Wage Hike

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 Associated Press

Workers at Sea-Tac International Airport are still not sure whether they’ll get a wage bump to $15 per hour come January. With SeaTac’s Proposition 1 still passing by a narrow margin, Alaska Airlines and other business interests are challenging the measure in court.

Alaska Airlines, the Washington Restaurant Association and a small business owner at the airport have been trying since July to block the minimum wage initiative in court. They’ve tried to keep the measure off the ballot and failed.

Now the issue is which court should hear the case. The business interests would like a King County judge to rule the initiative unconstitutional. But sponsors of the initiative, who are backed by unions like the Service Employees International Union, said the case should be heard in federal court.

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boeing decision
7:42 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Labor Groups Rally to Support Machinists' Crucial Boeing Vote

Supporters of Boeing machinists gathered at Westlake Park in Seattle on Monday, Nov. 18, 2013.
Ashley Gross KPLU

Ever since Boeing machinists voted last week to reject the company’s contract extension offer, people in the Puget Sound region have been trying to imagine a future without the aerospace giant here. But against the backdrop of those fears, labor supporters rallied Monday to show they think the machinists did the right thing.

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machinists vote
10:25 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Boeing: 'No Plans to Re-Engage' Machinists until Contract Expires

Boeing's 777 assembly line in Everett
Ashley Gross KPLU

Boeing shot down hopes that a sweetened offer might clinch a deal with its 31,000 machinists in the Seattle area to build its next 777 wide-body jet in Washington state. 

"The contract expires in September 2016. There are no plans to re-engage with the union regarding contract negotiations until prior to contract expiration," Boeing said in a question-and-answer section on its website regarding the contract extension offer it unveiled last week. 

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Business
5:00 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Author Hedrick Smith: Who Stole the American Dream?

File image
John Amis Associated Press

From fast food worker strikes to the SeaTac minimum wage initiative, stagnant wages and rising income inequality have grabbed headlines this year. But getting to the heart of why the middle class is struggling while the top 1 percent continues to prosper is complicated.

Former New York Times reporter Hedrick Smith sets out to provide answers in his book, "Who Stole the American Dream." He’s speaking Thursday evening at the University of Washington Tacoma.

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machinists vote
9:07 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Boeing Machinists Reject Offer, But Inslee Says 777X Not Lost Yet

Ashley Gross KPLU

With 67 percent of the votes, Boeing machinists rejected an eight-year contract proposal that would have ensured the assembly of Boeing's 777X and carbon-fiber wing in Washington state. 

Machinists booed union officials off the stage as they prepared to announce the decision made by the 31,000 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 751 Wednesday night. Local 751 District President Tom Wroblewski later released a statement with the decision.

"We preserved something sacred by rejecting the Boeing proposal. We've held onto our pensions, and that's big," the statement said.

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machinists vote
10:48 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Boeing Machinists Vote on Controversial Labor Offer

Ashley Gross KPLU

It's decision day for some 30,000 Boeing machinists who are voting on a controversial eight-year labor proposal.

Boeing told the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 751 its members need to accept the contract extension in order to ensure the next wide-body 777X jet is built in Washington state.

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boeing package
3:40 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Boeing Machinists Protest Offer Outside Everett Facility

Ashley Gross

Dozens of machinists gathered outside Boeing’s Everett facility on Monday, chanting “Vote no! Vote no!” in protest of the company’s latest labor offer.

More than 100 workers, some carrying signs of protest and wearing T-shirts with the same message, rallied to voice their rejection of Boeing’s eight-year offer, which calls for the freezing of workers’ pensions starting in 2016.

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