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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Living Wage
4:27 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

San Francisco Officials: Living Wage For Airport Workers 'Has Gone A Long Way'

A baggage handler drives a cart below a United Airlines 747-400, at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011.
Eric Risberg AP Photo

Since San Francisco set a higher minimum wage for its airport workers back in 2000, the city has seen a positive effect, officials from San Francisco International Airport told Port of Seattle commissioners Tuesday.

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Park Funding
4:14 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Seattle City Council Mulls Creating Park District To Fund Repairs

Matt Kowalczyk Flickr

The city of Seattle says its parks need major repairs and it doesn’t have the money to pay for them.

On Monday night, the Seattle City Council will hear from the public on the idea of creating a special park district that could levy its own taxes.

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Labor Union
11:03 am
Thu April 3, 2014

Machinists Union Reform Candidates Explain Why They're Running

Reform candidates Jay Cronk, left, and Jason Redrup, right.
Ashley Gross KPLU

Editor's Note: The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, a union of about 333,000 dues-paying members across the country, has not had a contested election for its top posts since 1961. People have tried to get through the nomination and endorsement process in the past to challenge the union's leadership, but they haven't succeeded, until now. Machinists are voting throughout the month of April, and the results will be known next month.

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Labor Union
5:01 am
Thu April 3, 2014

Boeing Contract Fight Fuels Effort To Oust Top Leaders Of The Machinists Union

Machinists union members and supporters chant at a rally asking members to vote against a proposed contract Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Boeing machinists in the Puget Sound region have a rare chance to head to the polls Thursday and vote on who should run their union’s national headquarters. It’s the first contested election for the top leadership posts in more than 50 years, and lingering anger over the recent Boeing contract extension vote is fueling an effort to oust the union leaders.

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Labor Union
4:50 am
Thu April 3, 2014

Machinists Union President Buffenbarger On Boeing, Reformers’ Challenge

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

Editor's Note: Tom Buffenbarger has held the top job of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers since 1997. He’s been in the public eye in the Pacific Northwest ever since the contentious Boeing contract-extension votes that took place last November and in January.

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Minimum Wage
4:18 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Group Pushing A $15/Hour Minimum Wage In Seattle Plans To File Ballot Initiative Language

A $15/hour minimum wage has been Seattle city council member Kshama Sawant's signature issue
Shannon Kringen

Ever since Seattle Mayor Ed Murray set up a committee to study how to hike Seattle’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, there’s been the faint sound of a clock ticking. Now that clock is getting louder. 

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Minimum Wage
2:44 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Former Employee Sues SeaTac Company, Alleges Employer Didn't Pay $15 Min. Wage

AP Photo

One of the 13 workers who filed complaints with the city of SeaTac alleging their employer was illegally failing to pay the new $15-an-hour minimum wage has now filed a lawsuit against the company. 

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Minimum Wage
2:03 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

SeaTac Parking Lot Company Fires Workers Who Complained About Not Getting $15/Hour

Supporters of a $15 minimum wage applaud behind a speaker at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport during a news conference Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

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Affordable Housing
4:05 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Study: Seattle Worker Needs Min. Wage Of $21.60/Hour To Afford Two-Bedroom Rental

Two-bedroom apartments at AVA Ballard start at $2,125 a month. The National Low Income Housing Coalition uses a HUD-estimated fair market rent of $1,123 for a two-bedroom apartment in Seattle to calculate the housing wage.
Ashley Gross KPLU

Even hiking the minimum wage to $15 an hour may not be enough to allow low-wage workers to afford rent in Seattle, according to a new study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. 

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Minimum Wage
4:51 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Starbucks CEO Schultz: $15 Minimum Wage Would Be Hard For Small Businesses

Howard Schultz, left, chairman and CEO of Starbucks Coffee Company, stands with Oprah Winfrey, right, after they announced their partnership to offer Teavana Oprah Chai tea, Wednesday, March 19, 2014, at Starbucks' annual shareholders meeting in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says a $15 per hour minimum wage in Seattle may not have such a big effect on his company, but he’s concerned it would hit small- and medium-sized businesses hard.

The issue of raising the minimum wage has dominated headlines in Seattle ever since Kshama Sawant, who has been pushing for the increase, won a city council seat last fall.

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Helicopter Crash
4:43 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

NTSB Investigating Fatal KOMO News Helicopter Crash Near Space Needle

Investigators look through the charred wreckage of a news helicopter and two vehicles after the chopper crashed into a city street near the Space Needle, Tuesday, March 18, 2014, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Two people were killed inside a news helicopter when it crashed outside the KOMO-TV studios near the Space Needle in Seattle, sending clouds of black smoke into the sky during the rush hour at 7:40 a.m. Tuesday.

In addition to the fatalities, Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore said a man managed to free himself from one of the burning cars at the accident scene. He was taken to Harborview Medical Center for treatment of serious burns. The man, who was initially listed in critical condition, was upgraded to serious condition Tuesday afternoon.

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Taxis vs. Rideshare Services
3:51 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Seattle City Council Approves Driver Cap For Rideshare Companies

Wessen Darge, a taxi driver of more than 20 years, says his income is down about 35 percent in the past year as a result of exploding competition from rideshare companies.
Ashley Gross

After working on new regulations for about a year, the Seattle City Council on Monday voted unanimously to limit the number of rideshare drivers who can be active at any one time.

Companies like UberX, Lyft and Sidecar will be able to each have 150 drivers active on the dispatch system at a given time. Those so-called "transportation network companies" let drivers use their personal vehicles and connect with passengers via smartphone applications.

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Labor Dispute
12:21 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Mental Health Clinicians In Thurston, Mason And Grays Harbor Counties Go On Strike

Clinicians are on strike in Olympia, Wash.
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW

More than 150 case managers, therapists and other employees of Behavioral Health Resources have walked off the job for a three-day strike. The agency provides mental-health and substance-abuse services in Thurston, Mason and Grays Harbor counties, mostly to Medicaid recipients.

The agency is in deep financial straits and had to take out a line of credit to make payroll in December.

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Minimum Wage
3:08 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Parking Lot Workers In SeaTac Say Their Boss Isn't Paying The $15 Minimum Wage

Last December, workers marched from SeaTac to Seattle in support of $15 minimum wage.
Ashley Gross

At the beginning of the year, the minimum wage in the city of SeaTac jumped to $15 an hour for workers at large hotels and parking lot companies. But employees at one parking lot business have complained to the city that they still haven’t gotten the raise almost three months later. 

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Transportation
12:20 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Report: Poor Roads, Congestion Cost Seattle-Area Drivers $1,800 A Year

This photo shows a traffic jam at Spring Street and Third Avenue in Seattle.
Oran Viriyincy

Seattle-area drivers are losing about $1,800 a year due to driving on poor roads, congestion delays and traffic crashes on roads that are unsafe, according to a new report by TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group. The same report says drivers are wasting 48 hours a year stuck in traffic.

The report highlighted the large number of roads in the city and the state in need of repair, and the costs to drivers from things like wear and tear on their vehicles.

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