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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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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Labor Dispute
4:20 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Space Needle Owners Violated Federal Labor Law, Administrative Law Judge Finds

File image
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

The owners of Seattle’s most famous landmark, the Space Needle, violated federal labor law, according to an administrative law judge with the National Labor Relations Board. 

The landmark that dominates Seattle's skyline is owned by Space Needle LLC, a private company owned by the descendants of the construction entrepreneur Howard S. Wright. The company he founded later built the Space Needle for the 1962 World's Fair. A spokesman says the company plans to appeal the judge's decision.

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Boeing Dreamliner
2:13 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Boeing Inspecting About 40 Undelivered Dreamliners For Possible Wing Cracks

Dreamliners in production at Boeing's Everett factory
Ashley Gross KPLU

Boeing says it is inspecting about 40 Dreamliners that may have hairline cracks in their wings. No planes in service are affected; the issue only affects some aircraft still in production.

Company spokesman Doug Alder says the wing manufacturer, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, told Boeing that a change in their manufacturing process may have caused the cracks, which Alder says are very small.

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Business
3:06 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Boeing Shifts 26,000 Non-Union Workers In The Seattle Region Away From A Pension

Boeing plans to shift its non-union employees away from a defined benefit pension plan, including about 26,000 workers in the Puget Sound region. 

In January, machinists here narrowly accepted a similar pension freeze to win the 777X production line. Now, Boeing’s including non-union employees in the retirement plan change because the company says its pension obligation is unsustainable.

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Minimum Wage
5:00 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Regional Economist Dick Conway Says $15 Minimum Wage Is 'Not Outrageous’

File image
AP Photo

For hours on Wednesday, people spoke up both for and against the proposal to raise Seattle’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. At 60 percent higher than the state’s current minimum wage, it’s an eye-popping number. 

But well-known regional economist Dick Conway says the figure is not so crazy.

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Business
5:00 am
Thu March 6, 2014

$15 Minimum Wage Forum Draws Heated Arguments On Both Sides

Workers and activists showed up to speak in favor of a $15/hour minimum wage
Ashley Gross KPLU

Business owners, union members, restaurant employees and activists each got two minutes Wednesday night to say their piece about a higher minimum wage in Seattle. The city council and a committee appointed by Mayor Ed Murray held the forum as they weigh possibly hiking the wage floor to $15 an hour. 

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Minimum Wage
4:43 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Labor Secretary Mum On Whether Seattle's $15 Minimum Wage Idea Makes Sense

FILE - In this April 18, 2013, file photo, Labor Secretary nominee Thomas Perez testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on his nomination.
Molly Riley AP Photo

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez says he supports the idea of a higher minimum wage, but he wouldn’t comment on whether Seattle’s proposed rate of $15 per hour makes sense. Perez made the comments during a visit to Boeing’s Renton factory Monday.

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Labor Unions
5:00 am
Fri February 28, 2014

UW Professor Traces Growing Income Gap To The Collapse Of Organized Labor

Low-wage workers march from SeaTac to Seattle to advocate for a $15 per hour minimum wage.
Ashley Gross KPLU

Income inequality in the U.S. is at its highest point in 85 years, and politicians are debating ways to raise the living standard for low-wage workers. Globalization, technology and deregulation are often cited as factors behind the widening income gap. But Jake Rosenfeld at the University of Washington says there’s one cause that’s often overlooked: the decline of organized labor.

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Minimum Wage
4:28 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Seattle Business Owners: $15 Minimum Wage Could Prove 'Possibly Fatal'

Peter Aaron
Ashley Gross

Seattle businesses are increasingly voicing concerns over the possibility of the city hiking the minimum wage to $15 an hour. On Thursday they brought those concerns to a mayor-appointed committee tasked with evaluating whether such a high minimum wage makes sense.

At $9.32 per hour, Washington state already has the highest minimum wage in the country, and $15 an hour represents a 60 percent increase.

“That kind of an immediate jump would have critical — and I don’t think it’s overly dramatic to say possibly fatal — consequences for our business,” said Peter Aaron, who owns Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

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Business
5:07 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Wireless Expert: T-Mobile CEO's 'Renegade' Approach Appears To Be Paying Off

FILE - T-Mobile CEO John Legere speaks during a news conference Tuesday, March 26, 2013 in New York.
Mary Altaffer AP Photo

T-Mobile lost more money in the most recent quarter than it did a year earlier, but one longtime wireless expert says the Bellevue company’s bid to shake up the mobile-phone industry appears to be paying off. 

T-Mobile has long been considered an afterthought in the mobile world, much smaller than giants like Verizon and AT&T. But for the past year and a half, the company’s had a new CEO, John Legere, who’s used that underdog status as an advantage.

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Tax Refund
5:00 am
Mon February 24, 2014

TurboTax Offers Taxpayers Option Of Getting Refund In Amazon Gift Card

File image
Paul Sakuma AP Photo

From car dealers to appliance stores, businesses know tax refund season is an important time of year. The average tax refund so far this year is $3,200 and more than three-quarters of taxpayers get a refund. 

Seattle's Amazon.com undoubtedly gets a boost already from that influx of cash. But this year, the company is aiming for more.

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Affordable Housing
5:59 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

As Ballard Complex Residents Face 75 Percent Rent Hike, Licata Calls For Future City Action

Residents protest outside Ballard's Lockhaven Apartments on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014.
Ashley Gross

Options are running out for tenants of an apartment complex in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood who are facing much higher rents once the new owner renovates their units. Seattle City Council members say more needs to be done to make sure other renters don’t face a similar plight.

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Labor Unions
5:00 am
Thu February 20, 2014

Volkswagen Vote Won't Stop Machinists From Continuing Boeing South Carolina Effort

FILE - In an Friday, April 27, 2012 photo, Boeing workers work gather around the first 787 manufactured at the company's assembly plant in North Charleston, S.C.
Bruce Smith AP Photo

The vote by Volkswagen workers in Tennessee to reject the United Auto Workers union has sent shock waves throughout the world of organized labor. And that setback is an example of why the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers faces an uphill battle organizing Boeing workers in South Carolina. 

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Employment
5:00 am
Mon February 17, 2014

Bill Would Prevent Employers From Asking About Arrests In Initial Job Applications

Taylor McKnight

These days, a common question on job applications is whether you’ve ever been arrested. But a growing number of states, including Minnesota and Massachusetts, have adopted laws to remove questions about criminal history from initial job applications. Sponsors of a bill in Olympia hope to add Washington to that list. 

House Bill 2545 would prevent employers from asking for non-conviction information in initial job applications. 

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