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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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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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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