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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Labor Union
6:04 am
Mon September 1, 2014

Lawsuit Challenges Automatic Deduction Of Union Dues For Home Care Workers In Wash.

The Service Employees International Union Healthcare 775 Northwest represents about 33,000 independent home care workers in Washington state. Their union dues are automatically deducted by the state of Washington, which pays the workers using public money, including Medicaid funds.

But a lawsuit is challenging that arrangement, drawing on the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision (Harris v. Quinn), and that potentially threatens the union's financial strength. 

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Labor Negotiations
4:14 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Alaska Air Flight Attendants Frustrated By Slow Contract Talks

Flight attendants protest outside Alaska's shareholders meeting in May, 2013.
Ashley Gross

Alaska Airlines executives and flight attendants are back at the bargaining table this week with a federal mediator, but the workers say they’re frustrated by the slow pace of contract negotiations which have dragged on for almost three years. 

Union leaders and the company did reach a tentative deal late last year, but members rejected it.

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Economy
9:39 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Report: Washington's Low-Income Residents Are Disproportionately Burdened By Debt

Low-income residents Washington state are disproportionately burdened by debt, according to a new report by the grassroots advocacy group Alliance for a Just Society. 

One reason: increasing student loan debt. The report says the average student loan debt at graduation in Washington jumped 23 percent from 2008 to 2012 to a total of more than $23,000. And the average credit card debt in the state is more than $5,000.

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Artscape
5:00 am
Mon August 25, 2014

One Poet's Vision To Celebrate The Beauty — And The Warts — Of Tacoma

Tacoma's poet laureate, Lucas Smiraldo
Ashley Gross KPLU

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Business
12:17 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Steve Ballmer Resigns From Microsoft Board, Saying He'll Be Busy As New Clippers Owner

FILE - In this Aug. 18, 2014 file photo, new Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer speaks during a news conference held after the Clippers Fan Festival in Los Angeles.
Jae C. Hong AP Photo

Former Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer is leaving the board of the software company he led for 14 years.

In a letter released on Microsoft's website, Ballmer said he has confidence in new CEO Satya Nadella, and he has no plans to sell his shares in the "foreseeable future." Ballmer said he holds more shares than anyone other than index funds. 

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Veterans' Needs
3:39 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

Puget Sound VA Says It's Making Progress In Reducing Its Waitlist For Primary Care

The head of the VA Puget Sound Health Care System, Michael Murphy, says the agency is making progress in getting veterans in to see a primary care doctor, but he says there’s still a lot more work to do to improve care for veterans in this region. 

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Aerospace
3:23 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

Boeing Begins Process Of Building Its 777X Composite Wing Plant In Everett

Officials including Sen. Maria Cantwell (center) and Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner (second from right) get ready to begin demolition work.
Ashley Gross

Everett is a step closer to becoming the home of Boeing’s next wide-body jet assembly. The company has started demolition work on three buildings that will be torn down to make way for the new 777X composite wing center. 

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Labor Dispute
5:00 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

Dozens Of Sakuma Berry Pickers Walk Out To Protest The Firing Of A Worker

Sakuma Brothers Farms workers walked out to protest the firing of an employee.
Ashley Gross

The ongoing labor dispute at a large Skagit Valley berry farm has flared up again. Workers at Sakuma Brothers Farms walked out on Monday to protest the firing of an employee who has been active in workplace organizing.

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Child Care Costs
3:54 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Sen. Murray Calls For Bigger Tax Credit For Child Care Costs

Sen. Patty Murray reads to children at a downtown Seattle daycare center.
Ashley Gross

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is pushing a plan to give parents a bigger tax credit for child care expenses. The high-ranking Democrat and former preschool teacher dropped in at a downtown Seattle daycare center Thursday to publicize the legislation, called the Helping Working Families Afford Child Care Act.

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Emergency Shelters
4:00 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

Seattle Faces Additional Shortage Of Homeless Shelter Space This Fall, Winter

Paul Sableman Flickr

More than 3,000 people were found sleeping outside in King County during the last one-night count of homeless people in January. And come fall and winter, the lack of emergency shelter space may worsen in Seattle. 

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Business
5:05 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Ferry Cancellation Coincides WIth Anacortes Arts Festival, Worrying Businesses

compdude787 Flickr

With four vessels out of service, users of Washington state’s ferry system are coping with disruptions all around Puget Sound. In Anacortes, the international ferry to Sidney, British Columbia is canceled through Friday, and business leaders in Anacortes say they’re concerned that hotels could be hurt on the town’s busiest weekend of the year.  

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Rail Safety
4:44 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

BNSF’s Proposal For One-Person Train Crews Concerns Rail Workers

FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2013, file photo, a BNSF Railway train hauls crude oil near Wolf Point, Montana.
Matthew Brown AP Photo

Railroad workers are speaking out against a proposal by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway to have single-employee freight train crews. They say the idea is unsafe, especially in light of the increasing transportation of crude oil by rail.

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Business
9:26 am
Tue July 29, 2014

Seattle-Based Redfin May Get A Higher IPO Price After Zillow-Trulia Deal, Banker Says

Redfin

In the world of online real estate companies, Seattle-based Zillow has dominated headlines lately with its plans to purchase rival Trulia. Is that bad news for Redfin, another competitor based in Seattle?

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Business
10:38 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Engineers’ Union Files Charges Against Boeing, Alleges Age Discrimination

The Associated Press

The union representing Boeing engineers has filed age-discrimination charges against the company with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Washington State Human Rights Commission.

The move comes in the wake of a series of announcements by Boeing that said the company is shifting thousands of engineering jobs to other states.

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Business
3:34 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Seattle City Light Employee Raises Workplace Safety Concerns To City Council

Dana

On a morning when a fire at a Seattle City Light substation knocked out power to customers including the Monorail, the utility’s CEO happened to be in city council chambers answering questions about safety. 

Seattle City Council members brought CEO Jorge Carrasco into an energy committee meeting to discuss a string of recent embarrassing news stories, including Seattle City Light’s effort to suppress unflattering online search results.

But public testimony at the meeting steered toward the issue of employee safety.

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