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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workers' rights
5:00 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Disability Rights Groups Call for End to Sub-Minimum Wage

Disability rights activists Tanna Shoyo, Matt Young and Marci Carpenter. Shoyo and Carpenter are with the National Federation of the Blind and Young is with the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network.
Ashley Gross KPLU

You may be surprised to know that under federal law, employers may not have to pay minimum wage if the worker is disabled. Now, disability rights activists in Seattle are joining a national movement to change that law, which dates back to 1938.

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boeing package
5:12 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Machinist: Boeing's Offer Negates Every Strike, Years of Progress

This image shows the Boeing 777x assembly line in Everett, Wash.
Ashley Gross KPLU

Anger has reached a fever pitch among Boeing’s 30,000 machinists in the Puget Sound region over the company’s latest labor proposal.

Boeing has said the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers must approve the eight-year contract by Wednesday in order to ensure that the next 777 jet is build in western Washington. Because the machinists still have nearly three years left on their current contract, they have no strike authority.

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Business
4:59 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Machinists Worry Renton Could Lose 737MAX Work under Boeing Offer

Stephen Brashear Associated Press

Boeing wants its machinists’ union to accept big concessions on retirement and health benefits in exchange for winning the assembly of the 777X wide-body jet in the Puget Sound region. But machinists are also worried the contract casts doubt on the future of the 737MAX in Renton. 

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help for veterans
10:34 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Starbucks Is Latest Company Aiming To Help Vets Land Jobs

Seattle coffee giant Starbucks says the company will hire at least 10,000 veterans or their spouses over the next five years.
Mario Tama Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 6, 2013 6:22 am

In recent years, companies ranging from JPMorgan Chase to Walmart to Boeing have announced special hiring programs for veterans. Seattle coffee giant Starbucks is the latest.

All of these companies are trying to bring down a stubbornly high unemployment rate for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. But to succeed, companies have to take the time to understand the skills of service members.

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living wage initiative
8:50 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

SeaTac's $15 Minimum Wage Initiative Passing So Far

In this Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013 photo, wheelchair attendant Erick Conley, left, assists an elderly passenger heading overseas at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac, Wash.
Elaine Thompson Associated Press

An initiative to create a $15 minimum wage for many workers in SeaTac is winning.

An early vote count Tuesday showed the measure carrying 54 percent of the vote. Because Washington state votes entirely by mail, more ballots are left to count.

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housing for the homeless
12:15 pm
Sun November 3, 2013

Seattle Lags Behind Other Big Cities in Sheltering the Homeless

Based on data provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

King County has more than 13 times as many homeless people without shelter than Boston. In fact, the county has almost as many unsheltered homeless people as New York City. Advocates say that points to an urgent need to move more people here off the street, and probably more money to help tackle the problem.

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grocery workers
12:18 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Local Grocery Workers Approve Tentative Deal with Employers

Rhonda Ivie, who works at a Safeway in Lynden, was on the union's bargaining team.
Ashley Gross

Some 21,000 local grocery workers have overwhelmingly approved a tentative deal with their employers.

“They tried to turn us into Walmart, and they did not succeed," said Dave Schmitz, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21.

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Business
1:43 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Starbucks' Profit Climbs 34 Percent in Fourth Quarter

AP Photo

Starbucks says its profit rose 34 percent in its fiscal fourth-quarter, as the coffee chain attracted more customers around the world.

The Seattle-based company said global sales rose 7 percent at cafes open at least a year, including an 8 percent rise in both the U.S. and Asia.

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Business
12:12 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Possible Reasons Boeing Plans 777X Design Outside of Seattle

Boeing's 777 assembly line in Everett
Ashley Gross KPLU

In a blow to Boeing's traditional base in the Puget Sound region, the company says it will do "much of the detailed design" for its next 777 wide-body jet in other states and Russia. 

Two top executives in Boeing's Commercial Airplanes division, Mike Delaney and Scott Fancher, told employees in a memo today that engineering teams in Charleston, South Carolina; Huntsville, Alabama; Long Beach, California; Philadelphia; and St. Louis. Engineers in Moscow will also help. 

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sign of the times
5:00 am
Mon October 28, 2013

A Rising Tide of People `Pushes Back' Against Technology

Ricardo Gomez of the University of Washington is looking for pictures of signs like this one.

Do the little alerts from your phone make you twitch? Is Facebook leaving you more depressed than satisfied? If you’re feeling tired of being constantly connected to the Internet, you’re not alone.

University of Washington researchers say there’s a new phenomenon on the rise. Called “pushback", it refers to people who are choosing to unplug. 

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Amazon earnings
1:54 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Amazon Narrows 3Q Loss as Sales Jump 24 Pct

AP Photo

Amazon.com says that its fiscal third-quarter loss narrowed as revenue grew 24 percent to more than $17 billion.

The Seattle-based online retailer also said Thursday that it expects growth in its fourth-quarter revenue, indicating confidence as it enters the key holiday shopping season.

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Election 2013
5:00 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Challenge for Seattle's Next Mayor: Making Housing Affordable

Laura DeFrate says she and her family may have to leave Seattle because rents have gotten too high.
Ashley Gross KPLU

Seattle’s next mayor will face the challenge of balancing the city’s growth with affordability. 

“Because our city’s popular, because we’re adding jobs, because more people want to live in our walkable urban places, the competition for existing housing is driving up the rent, driving up housing prices,” said Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn.

Both McGinn and challenger Ed Murray shared their ideas, many of them similar, on ways to create affordable housing for people of all income.

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Business
8:17 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Grocery Workers Give 72-Hour Strike Notice

Bob B. Brown Flickr

About 21,000 grocery workers at QFC, Fred Meyer, Safeway, and Albertsons in the Puget Sound region have given notice that they plan to go on strike in 72 hours. 

That shows the two sides failed to reach agreement on a new contract, in spite of renewed negotiations this past week. Union officials have said the companies want to restrict health insurance to employees who work 30 hours a week or more, in addition to essentially freezing wages. 

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Politics
9:22 am
Thu October 17, 2013

Seattle Federal Employees Head to Work, Glad Shutdown Is Over

The federal building in downtown Seattle filled up with workers again after Congress reopened the government
Andy Slabaugh

Relief. That was the main reaction from government workers heading back to their jobs at the federal building in downtown Seattle after a couple weeks of forced time off due to the partial government shutdown. A steady stream of people headed through the revolving doors even before sunrise.

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Business
4:31 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Traditional Grocery Chains Wage a Two-Front Battle

File image
Nick Ut Associated Press

All you have to do is turn on your TV lately to see evidence of the grocery wars. 

One recent Walmart ad states: "With Fred Meyer fuel points, you could save $1.30 at the pump. At Walmart, you could have saved a total of $17.92." 

"Wow, that's awesome!" the woman shopper in the commercial exclaims. 

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