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
7:41 am
Mon July 22, 2013

Seatac Businesses, Unions Stage Showdown over Minimum Wage

Powerful business interests and unions are staging a showdown in the small town of SeaTac. Tuesday night, the SeaTac City Council is supposed to vote on whether to put a living wage initiative on the November ballot.  

Airport workers affiliated with unions like the Service Employees International Union and the Teamsters collected signatures to put the measure on the ballot. It would set a minimum wage of $15 an hour for hospitality and transportation workers including people like baggage handlers at the airport.

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Weather with Cliff Mass
9:44 am
Fri July 19, 2013

Ready, Set, Glow about Seattle's Perfect Summer Weather

While the East Coast melts with high temperatures and sweltering humidity, Seattleites get to enjoy "day after day of perfect weather," says Cliff Mass, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington. 

For the coming week, we'll see more of the same—low clouds in the morning that then burn off as the sun gets stronger with highs in the upper 70s and low 80s. 

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microsoft earnings
4:11 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

With Weak Windows 8 Adoption, Microsoft Sales Fall Short

Sales of Microsoft's Surface tablet have been disappointing
Jason Howie

Microsoft sales and profit rose less than analysts expected in the most recent quarter as the company continues to struggle with slow adoption of its latest operating system.

Microsoft launched Windows 8 last year, but it was a radical makeover and sales have been disappointing. The company also rolled out its own tablet to compete with Apple’s iPad but that hasn’t sold well and Microsoft wrote off almost a billion dollars in the recent quarter related to tablet inventory. 

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Business
8:11 am
Thu July 18, 2013

Growing Number of Workers Can Only Find Part-Time Work

FILE
Mike Groll Associated Press

Washington state’s economy is recovering, but a growing percentage of workers can only find part-time jobs, and that is shutting many of them out of employer-based health insurance.

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Trash Pickup
4:31 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Should Seattle Collect Garbage Every Other Week?

Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Following the lead of Olympia, Portland, and Tacoma, the city of Seattle is considering less frequent garbage pickup. But not everyone who took part in a pilot program last year loves the idea.

In four neighborhoods, Seattle Public Utilities experimented with picking up garbage every other week instead of every week. The city did not change its pickup schedule for recycling or yard and food waste. The aim of switching is to reduce the number of garbage trucks on the road, save the city some money and encourage recycling.

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Business
4:26 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Alaska Air Challenges SeaTac Minimum Wage Initiative

Frank Kovalchek

Alaska Air Group is trying to quash a ballot initiative in the city of SeaTac that would hike wages for airport ground crew and other workers. 

The initiative would set a $15 per-hour minimum wage for hospitality and transportation workers in SeaTac—people at the airport like baggage handlers and folks who push wheelchairs, as well as hotel workers and employees at rental car companies.

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Business
5:00 am
Mon July 15, 2013

Analyst: Japan a Strong Contender for Boeing 777x Wing

Boeing's 777 assembly line in Everett
Ashley Gross KPLU

State and local leaders have promised Boeing expedited permitting to build its next 777 wide-body jet, as well as the plane’s carbon-fiber wing, in Washington. Still, the Puget Sound region faces competition for wing assembly not only from elsewhere in the U.S., but also from Japan.

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foreclosures
8:03 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Counter to national trend, foreclosures in Washington climb

Foreclosure 'heat map' of Seattle in June 2013
RealtyTrac

The number of foreclosures in Washington state has jumped so far this year compared with last year, counter to the national trend. 

Bank repossessions climbed 78 percent in the first half of this year, according to the foreclosure-data firm RealtyTrac. New foreclosure filings have risen as well even though, nationally, they’re dropping.

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Legalized marijuana
3:48 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Patrick Kennedy launches local marijuana education group

This photo shows former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy.
Jeff Meade

Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, son of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, is wading into Washington state’s marijuana legalization process. He’s opening a local chapter of his group that aims to educate people about the health risks of the drug.

Kennedy has struggled in the past with addiction to alcohol and prescription painkillers. And he’s admitted using marijuana in the past before learning about the health risks of today’s more potent cannabis.

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Business
8:45 am
Tue July 9, 2013

Researchers say Seattle should better publicize sick-leave law

pixieclipx Flickr

University of Washington researchers say Seattle needs to do more to let businesses know about its paid-sick leave ordinance. They found almost half of business owners didn’t know about it as the law was taking effect last year. 

Seattle began requiring businesses with more than four employees to offer paid sick leave last Sept. 1. The city auditor hired UW researchers to conduct a survey right around that time. They found that four out of 10 employers knew nothing about it.

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Business
8:13 am
Mon July 8, 2013

Did Washington lawmakers hurt efforts to win the Boeing 777x?

Boeing's 777 assembly line in Everett
Ashley Gross KPLU

Boeing has sent a technical team to assist in the investigation of the Asiana Airlines 777 crash in San Francisco.

Meanwhile, the company is on the brink of making major business decisions about where the newest 777 will be built. Some aerospace observers, speaking off the record, say Washington state's recent legislative session may have damaged our chances of landing the assembly here. They say lawmakers failed to show Boeing the state is serious about competing with lower-wage states like South Carolina. 

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Business
3:19 pm
Fri July 5, 2013

Seattle, Tacoma and Vancouver ports aim to reduce air pollution

Bari Bookout

The ports of Seattle, Tacoma and Vancouver, B.C., are working together to dramatically reduce emissions. And they’re trying to do that without scaring away any cargo companies. 

Most of the diesel air pollution at the ports comes from ocean-going ships, but also from tug boats, cranes, trucks and trains. 

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Business
4:13 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

Boeing deliveries top Airbus so far this year in spite of 787 problems

787 Dreamliner production in Everett
Ashley Gross KPLU

Boeing has topped Airbus in airplane deliveries so far this year in spite of the Dreamliner grounding that forced Boeing to stop delivering 787s for several months. 

The 787 grounding lasted three months, but it seems to have had little effect. Boeing kept producing new Dreamliners in Everett and in South Carolina during that time, then started handing them over to customers as soon as regulators gave the OK, with the newly-modified battery, of course.

Aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia says it was a bold and risky move to keep the Dreamliner assembly lines humming.

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Environment
5:25 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

House Dems remove fish-consumption study from budget

jpellgen Flickr

Washington state House Democrats removed funds for a fish-consumption study from the final budget. That went against the wishes of one of the state's biggest business interests, Boeing.

The state Department of Ecology currently assumes that people in Washington eat about one meal of fish a month. But the state acknowledges the standard is out of date; many people eat a lot more fish than that.

Tribes and environmental groups have been urging the state to update its standard and require stricter regulation of water pollution. But that has been met with resistance from businesses, including Boeing.

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Business
5:00 am
Mon July 1, 2013

Professors ask Boeing staff: Do you `live, eat, and breathe your job?'

787 production in Everett
Ashley Gross KPLU

A team of professors with the University of Puget Sound wants to know how happy—or unhappy—Boeing workers are. The professors are surveying the company's employees about their attitudes toward work with the goal of turning the research into a book. 

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