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
4:41 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Governor-Appointed Group To Tackle Farm Labor Issues In Wash. State

FILE - Workers at Sakuma Brothers Farms are seen at work.
Bellamy Pailthorp

After a tumultuous year in which berry pickers at a Skagit County farm went on repeated strikes, a new group appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee is set to start tackling farm labor issues. 

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Workers' Rights
1:59 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

Sakuma Brothers Farms Withdraws Application For H-2A Guest Workers

Steve Sakuma in front of newly renovated worker cabins at Sakuma Brothers Farms
Brett Davis Washington Farm Bureau

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Business
4:59 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Sawant Declares Victory As Seattle Moves Closer To A $15/Hour Minimum Wage

Kshama Sawant and members of 15 Now cheer the vote by the city council committee to approve raising the minimum wage.
Ashley Gross KPLU

Seattle’s low-wage workers are closer to getting a raise. A city council committee unanimously voted to pass Mayor Ed Murray’s minimum wage plan, with some amendments.

Even Socialist city council member Kshama Sawant, who’s criticized the measure as too watered down, said it’s a victory for workers. 

The plan phases in a $15-an-hour minimum wage over a period of three to seven years, depending on how big the business is. City council members considered a number of amendments, including one to push the initial start date to April 1st next year instead of January 1st. That measure passed.

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The Lives Of Migrant Workers
5:00 am
Wed May 21, 2014

5 Things One Anthropologist Learned While Working As A Migrant Berry Picker In Wash.

Courtesy of Seth Holmes

Seth Holmes is a doctor and anthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley who did something that wouldn’t occur to most white, middle-class, highly-educated Americans.

About a decade ago, he spent a year and a half traveling, living with and working alongside migrant indigenous Mexican farmworkers from the state of Oaxaca. His stint included two seasons picking strawberries and blueberries on a large farm in Skagit County.

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Business
5:00 am
Tue May 20, 2014

Seattle Group To Hold Its First Investment Forum Solely For Women Entrepreneurs

Getting your startup company funded can be tough no matter what, but women entrepreneurs may face the additional challenge of overcoming gender bias.

A Seattle-based angel investing group called ZINO Society is holding its first-ever investment forum dedicated solely to women business owners. 

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Labor Dispute
5:00 am
Mon May 19, 2014

Berry Pickers Sue Sakuma Brothers Farms, Allege Retaliation After Last Year’s Strikes

FILE - Workers at Sakuma Brothers Farms are seen at work.
Bellamy Pailthorp KPLU

Editor's note: The story has been updated to clarify that the berry pickers formed a workers' association. They did not form a union by holding an election under the National Labor Relations Act.

Berry pickers who went on strike at Sakuma Brothers Farms in Skagit County several times last year have filed a suit against the company, alleging retaliation. The workers say Sakuma has blacklisted many of them from working this summer as payback for their walkouts.

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Labor Practices
5:00 am
Thu May 15, 2014

Janitors At UW Tacoma Rally Over Lack Of Benefits And Low Pay

Labor activists plan to rally today at the University of Washington Tacoma campus on behalf of the school’s janitorial workers. They’re drawing attention to the cleaning staff’s lack of benefits and low pay.

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Gay Rights
5:00 am
Wed May 14, 2014

Gay Eagle Scout Behind Petition Urging Amazon To Drop Support Of Boy Scouts

Geoff McGrath is seen on Tuesday, April 1, 2014, in Bellevue, Wash. The Boys Scouts of America has removed McGrath, an openly gay troop leader, after saying he made an issue out of his sexual orientation.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

More than 90,000 people have signed a petition asking Amazon to drop its charitable support of Boy Scouts of America. The move comes after the national organization of the Boy Scouts last month fired Geoffrey McGrath, a gay Seattle Scoutmaster. 

Amazon has a program called AmazonSmile that will donate 0.5 percent of your purchase price to a charitable group of your choice. Boy Scouts of America is among the almost one million groups you can choose.

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Machinists Union
12:08 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

Machinists Union Leaders Keep Their Posts After Rare Contested Election

FILE - Tom Buffenbarger speaks to Boeing Co. workers Wednesday, July 16, 2008, at a strike sanction rally in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

After a rare contested election, the incumbents have retained their posts at the top of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

International President Tom Buffenbarger kept the position he’s held since 1997 by a margin of two-to-one, according to preliminary results. About 23,500 members voted for Buffenbarger, and about 11,200 voted for IAM Reform candidate, Jay Cronk.

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On Determination
10:06 am
Fri May 9, 2014

Blind Seattle-Area Marathoner To Attempt Summiting North America's Tallest Peak

Bruce Stobie is seen on a recent climb to Camp Muir on Mount Rainier.
Courtesy Dave Marcy

Bruce Stobie may be blind, but he’s getting ready to do something that most of us with perfect eyesight would never attempt. On June 10, he’s setting out on a three-week round-trip expedition to climb North America’s tallest peak, Denali.

Stobie grew up in Des Moines, Washington, loving to climb. But everything changed on Nov. 5, 1983. He was one of nine college kids packed into a truck driving through the Cascades when the driver lost control. The last thing Stobie ever saw was the truck flying into the air. He smashed, face-first, into the roll bar of the vehicle before being tossed out.

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Minimum Wage
5:00 am
Wed May 7, 2014

Seattle's $15 Minimum Wage Plan: Eye-Catching, But Don't Forget Inflation

Seattle workers at small businesses would earn $15 an hour in 2021 under Mayor Ed Murray's plan, but that number isn't adjusted for inflation
Andy Ciordia

Seattle City Council members are digging into the details of Mayor Ed Murray’s plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. That’s an eye-catching number that’s garnered national attention, but it's easy to forget the impact of that pesky thing known as inflation.

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Labor Unions
3:04 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

Longtime Union Organizer Says Machinists' Reform Push Is A Hopeful Sign For Labor

Machinists and supporters rally against a contract vote in January 2014
Elaine Thompson/AP Photo

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Business
12:38 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

Amid Minimum Wage Debate, Alaska Air Gives Contractors A Raise To $12 An Hour

In this Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013 photo, wheelchair attendants Erick Conley, left, and Sesilia Vaitele assist a pair of passengers heading to an overseas flight at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, in SeaTac, Wash.
Elaine Thompson/AP Photo

Against the backdrop of a minimum wage debate occurring both locally and nationally, Alaska Air says it’s boosting the starting pay for workers who handle baggage, clean cabins and refuel airplanes to $12 an hour.

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Minimum Wage
2:54 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

Seattle Mayor Murray's Minimum Wage Plan Reveals An Interesting Divide On The Left

AP Photo

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's incremental approach to raising the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour has revealed an interesting divide among left-wing groups and worker interests.

In one corner is David Rolf, a national leader in the Service Employees International Union and president of SEIU Healthcare 775NW. He's come out strongly in favor of Murray's plan, under which workers at businesses with more than 500 employees would first start earning $15 an hour in 2017 at the earliest. 

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Metro Transit Cuts
3:03 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

King County Council Begins Tough Job Of Eliminating Bus Service

File image
AP Photo

King County Council members are proceeding with the unwelcome task of eliminating bus service. Metro already has a plan, but council members have the final say on how to parcel out the cuts in the most logical and equitable way. 

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