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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Machinists Union
12:08 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

Machinists Union Leaders Keep Their Posts After Rare Contested Election

FILE - Tom Buffenbarger speaks to Boeing Co. workers Wednesday, July 16, 2008, at a strike sanction rally in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

After a rare contested election, the incumbents have retained their posts at the top of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

International President Tom Buffenbarger kept the position he’s held since 1997 by a margin of two-to-one, according to preliminary results. About 23,500 members voted for Buffenbarger, and about 11,200 voted for IAM Reform candidate, Jay Cronk.

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On Determination
10:06 am
Fri May 9, 2014

Blind Seattle-Area Marathoner To Attempt Summiting North America's Tallest Peak

Bruce Stobie is seen on a recent climb to Camp Muir on Mount Rainier.
Courtesy Dave Marcy

Bruce Stobie may be blind, but he’s getting ready to do something that most of us with perfect eyesight would never attempt. On June 10, he’s setting out on a three-week round-trip expedition to climb North America’s tallest peak, Denali.

Stobie grew up in Des Moines, Washington, loving to climb. But everything changed on Nov. 5, 1983. He was one of nine college kids packed into a truck driving through the Cascades when the driver lost control. The last thing Stobie ever saw was the truck flying into the air. He smashed, face-first, into the roll bar of the vehicle before being tossed out.

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Minimum Wage
5:00 am
Wed May 7, 2014

Seattle's $15 Minimum Wage Plan: Eye-Catching, But Don't Forget Inflation

Seattle workers at small businesses would earn $15 an hour in 2021 under Mayor Ed Murray's plan, but that number isn't adjusted for inflation
Andy Ciordia

Seattle City Council members are digging into the details of Mayor Ed Murray’s plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. That’s an eye-catching number that’s garnered national attention, but it's easy to forget the impact of that pesky thing known as inflation.

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Labor Unions
3:04 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

Longtime Union Organizer Says Machinists' Reform Push Is A Hopeful Sign For Labor

Machinists and supporters rally against a contract vote in January 2014
Elaine Thompson/AP Photo

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Business
12:38 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

Amid Minimum Wage Debate, Alaska Air Gives Contractors A Raise To $12 An Hour

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

Against the backdrop of a minimum wage debate occurring both locally and nationally, Alaska Air says it’s boosting the starting pay for workers who handle baggage, clean cabins and refuel airplanes to $12 an hour.

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Minimum Wage
2:54 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

Seattle Mayor Murray's Minimum Wage Plan Reveals An Interesting Divide On The Left

AP Photo

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's incremental approach to raising the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour has revealed an interesting divide among left-wing groups and worker interests.

In one corner is David Rolf, a national leader in the Service Employees International Union and president of SEIU Healthcare 775NW. He's come out strongly in favor of Murray's plan, under which workers at businesses with more than 500 employees would first start earning $15 an hour in 2017 at the earliest. 

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Metro Transit Cuts
3:03 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

King County Council Begins Tough Job Of Eliminating Bus Service

File image
AP Photo

King County Council members are proceeding with the unwelcome task of eliminating bus service. Metro already has a plan, but council members have the final say on how to parcel out the cuts in the most logical and equitable way. 

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Coffee Industry
5:00 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Coffee Farmers: Why An Extra 20 Cents Per Pound Of Coffee Matters

From left to right, coffee farm workers Norman Gonzalez, Elio Machado, Marcos Camilo and Erwin Ochoa are seen.
Ashley Gross

Marcos Camilo of Brazil had never been on a plane before he flew to Seattle this past weekend. In fact, he’d never even seen the ocean. Now he’s seen the Pacific — something he never imagined.

Camilo was one of thousands of people from the coffee industry who convened at a conference to discuss a variety of topics, from roasting techniques to latte art. He was one of four farm workers from Central and South America joined them to pitch the benefits of buying beans that are Fair Trade-certified.

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Minimum Wage
3:52 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Murray: No Committee Consensus Yet On Seattle's $15 Minimum Wage Proposal

AP Photo

The committee exploring the proposal to raise Seattle’s minimum wage to $15 has not reached a consensus, Mayor Ed Murray said Thursday.

Murray, who had called a news conference to unveil a plan for raising the minimum wage, said the Income Inequality Advisory Committee had not yet reached a firm agreement. He added the negotiations are ongoing.

“I’d rather get it late and get it right than rush it and get it wrong,” he said.

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Arts
8:26 am
Thu April 24, 2014

'Vagina Monologues' Inspires South Asian Women In Seattle To Perform Their Own

The cast of this year's "Yoni Ki Baat."
Shikha Jain

In 1996, playwright Eve Ensler reclaimed a word that had mostly been relegated to medical textbooks and grade-school jokes. In her piece, “The Vagina Monologues,” she adapted interviews with women about their sexuality and turned them into performance art. The play has inspired women around the world to talk more openly about their bodies.

Here in Seattle, it inspired some South Asian women to reclaim the word “yoni.” That’s the Hindi word for vagina.

Instead of performing Ensler’s piece, these women write and perform their own stories. And there’s much to explore. They come from a society that’s grabbed unwelcome headlines in recent years for brutal violence against women. Even here in Seattle, South Asian women say they battle repressive attitudes within the expatriate community. 

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Business
10:47 am
Wed April 23, 2014

Boeing CEO: Moving Engineering Jobs Out Of Wash. Will 'Strengthen Our Company'

A 777 being assembled in Boeing's Everett plant
Ashley Gross KPLU

Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney says he understands that shifting engineering work away from Washington state may be controversial, but he says these moves “strengthen our company, strengthen our engineering capability.”

Over the past year, the Chicago-based aerospace giant has announced several transfers of engineering jobs that affect thousands of Puget Sound-area employees. Most recently, the company said earlier this month that it will move 1,000 engineering positions to southern California as it makes that region the center of customer support for airplanes currently in service.

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Business
5:00 am
Mon April 21, 2014

Seattle Business Owners Turn To An Unlikely Source Of Consultants: UW Undergrads

Kristi Brown Wokoma, a Seattle chef, makes a unique kind of hummus out of black-eyed peas. She's turned to UW undergraduates for consulting help.
Ashley Gross KPLU

Business owners in Seattle and around the state are lining up to tap the expertise of an unusual group of consultants: undergraduates at the University of Washington.

That may sound surprising, since the students mostly just have a few internships on their resumes. But their consulting class pushes them to dive deep into their clients’ business problems and deliver tangible, practical advice.

For one local chef, it’s a partnership that has yielded results.

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Minimum Wage
4:45 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Seattle Council Member Licata Calls For New Department To Enforce Labor Laws

Seattle City Council member Nick Licata is seen talking to the media on Wednesday, April 16, 2014.
Ashley Gross KPLU

This may be the year that Seattle adopts one of the highest minimum wages in the country. But labor advocates and Seattle City Council member Nick Licata say without tough enforcement, a new wage law will be toothless. 

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Boeing Jobs
10:45 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Boeing Moves 1,000 Customer Support Jobs Out Of Wash. State To SoCal

AP Photo

Boeing is moving about 1,000 of its customer support jobs out of Washington and into Southern California.

The company said Thursday that it is centralizing its customer support to its engineering design center in Southern California. It already employs 1,800 people at its Long Beach and Seal Beach sites there.

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Minimum Wage
10:39 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Why Are Seattle Restaurant Owners Pushing For A So-Called 'Tip Credit'?

File image
Mary Ann Chastain AP Photo

If you’re a restaurant server in Texas or Mississippi, you probably earn $2.13 an hour from your employer. That’s the federal minimum wage for people who earn tips.

But here, servers earn at least $9.32 an hour, and then earn tips on top of that. Washington is one of seven states that require that tipped workers get the same minimum wage as everyone else. But with talk of a $15 an hour minimum wage, restaurant owners are pushing back.

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