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
12:05 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Costco Aims for World Domination (or at Least 36 More Stores)

Shoppers at Costco in Japan can pick up sushi along with paper towels and detergent
Danny Choo

You can already buy gigantic packages of toilet paper and toothpaste at Costco stores everywhere from Misato City, Japan, to Lidcombe, Australia. Those are just two of Costco's 634 stores worldwide. 

But now, Costco is planning a more aggressive expansion in the coming 12 months. The wholesale retailer says it aims to open as many as 36 more stores, 10 more than in the fiscal year that ended at the beginning of September. Half of those stores will be outside the U.S.

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Business
6:00 am
Tue October 8, 2013

No Computer? Startup Lets Job Applicants Apply Via Texting

Jobaline lets people apply for jobs via text messaging from a flip phone.
yum9me

Many of us are connected to the Internet almost all the time. But there are still lots of people who have no way to get online and for them, it can be hard to find a job in this increasingly digital world. It can also be hard for employers to find those workers.

Now, one startup in Kirkland aims to help people apply for jobs using nothing more than an ordinary flip phone. 

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living wage initiative
5:02 am
Mon October 7, 2013

Why Sea-Tac Airport Workers Can't Join a Union for Better Pay

Baggage handler, Socrates Bravo, looks at a photo of his daughter in his SeaTac apartment.
Ashley Gross KPLU

Socrates Bravo often works 15-hour days, and he'd like a raise.

But as a baggage handler at Sea-Tac International Airport, he doesn’t have many options. Traditionally, when workers want better wages, they join a union. So why don’t airport workers like Bravo just do that?

The reason: They’re stuck in a legal limbo under federal labor law. And that’s why they’ve turned to the ballot box instead.

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pot supply and demand
4:45 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

City Attorney: Number of Allowed Pot Stores Must Meet Demand

Elaine Thompson Associated Press

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes says he’s concerned the city may not have enough marijuana stores to meet demand when they open next year under Initiative 502. 

Holmes is concerned if there aren’t enough stores, people will buy their drugs out on the street. Seattle is set to have 21 pot stores when the rules go into effect.

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Business
10:21 am
Thu September 26, 2013

Local Grocery Store Workers Vote to Authorize Strike

Bob B. Brown

With 98 percent of the votes, grocery store workers in the Puget Sound area authorized a strike on Thursday.

The union members said they're upset in part over cuts to health care in the latest offer from their employers. The workers added that a strike isn’t imminent; they hope to return to the bargaining table and reach an agreement that addresses their concerns.

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Business
7:46 am
Wed September 25, 2013

King County Executive Holds the Line on Services After Years of Cuts

King County Executive Dow Constantine has proposed a budget that holds the line on county services after years of cuts in the wake of the recession.

Constantine said the county has reduced costs by measures ranging from updating equipment to urging employees to use generic medicines. He said his agencies are also trying to limit red tape and speed up things like license renewals.

"We have saved a cumulative $111 million in the General Fund alone, and that money is today preserving services for the public," Constantine said.

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Business
5:59 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

Fast Food Worker Challenges Firing, but Faces Uphill Battle

Carlos Hernandez has filed charges against his employer, Subway, for what he says was an illegal firing
Ashley Gross KPLU

 (Update 9/25/13: Adds comment from Subway franchise owner Hasan Zeer.)

A worker fired from a Subway sandwich shop in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood has filed charges saying it was illegal retaliation for going on strike. But experts say fighting that kind of legal battle can take years.

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Business
3:35 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

Is Seattle Heading for a Grocery Store Strike?

QFC, Safeway, Fred Meyer and Albertsons are in the middle of contentious bargaining with about 30,000 workers
Bob B. Brown

About 30,000 grocery store workers in the Puget Sound region will be voting next week on whether to authorize a strike. That’s after the bargaining team decided to recommend a strike vote, saying they made no progress in bargaining earlier this week.

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Business
3:34 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Teamsters Say Darigold Walked Out of Negotiations

Roadsidepictures

Seattle’s big dairy cooperative, Darigold, is once again facing worker unrest. The Teamsters have filed an unfair labor practice charge, saying the company walked out of negotiations with a mediator. 

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minimum wage
4:25 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Money Pours in From Both Sides of SeaTac Minimum Wage Fight

Supporters of the initiative attended a recent SeaTac City Council meeting.
Ashley Gross KPLU

Hundreds of thousands of dollars have poured into both sides of a heated controversy over a proposed minimum wage hike in the city of SeaTac. 

The state Supreme Court on Wednesday denied an appeal by Alaska Airlines and other business groups seeking to keep the living-wage ordinance off the November ballot.

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Business
4:02 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Professor Proposes Eminent Domain for Underwater Mortgages

Don Ryan, File AP Photos

A Cornell University law professor recommends that Seattle consider using its power of eminent domain to stem the foreclosure crisis. But that idea is controversial, and a California city that said it planned to try using eminent domain for that purpose is now being challenged in court. 

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Business
2:04 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

Court Rejects Longshoremen's Challenge to Seattle Arena Plan

sonicsarena.com

A state appeals court ruled against the longshoremen’s union in its attempt to block a new NBA arena in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood. 

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Business
5:00 am
Mon September 9, 2013

Darigold, Workers in Mediation as Contract Negotiations Heat Up

Washington state’s biggest private company is heading to mediation today with workers in Seattle, Issaquah and Tukwila. The negotiations between Darigold and its workers have gotten tense, and some staged an informational picket last week. 

Darigold’s butter and other dairy products are familiar to many shoppers in this area. It is a cooperative of more than 500 dairy farmers in the Pacific Northwest. In fiscal 2012, Darigold took in almost $2.5 billion in revenue.

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living wage initiative
4:44 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

SeaTac Minimum Wage Initiative to Appear on November Ballot

Elaine Thompson Associated Press

After a legal tug-of-war, supporters of a $15 per hour minimum wage for some workers in SeaTac have gotten their initiative on the November ballot.

Alaska Airlines, the Washington Restaurant Association and an airport restaurant owner had challenged the validity of some of the petition signatures, but a panel of appeals judges ruled that those signatures should be counted and the measure will head to the voters.

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Business
4:14 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

Seattle Housing Authority Begins Long-Awaited Yesler Project

Ashley Gross KPLU

The long-awaited redevelopment of Seattle’s oldest public housing complex is finally under way. 

The Seattle Housing Authority had hoped to break ground on Yesler Terrace months ago, but tighter scrutiny by funders in this post-recession world delayed the project, says Seattle Housing Authority's Director of Development Stephanie Van Dyke. 

The city, the federal government, and J.P. Morgan Chase are funding the project. 

"Everyone really is doing, I would say, extra, extra due diligence on financing," Van Dyke said. 

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