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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Alaska Air labor issues
6:04 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Workers stage protest at Alaska Air shareholders meeting

Alaska Air workers are seen protesting outside the annual shareholders meeting.

 (Editor's note May 23, 2013: Corrects to clarify that baggage handlers, cabin cleaners and other airport workers have signed cards to join unions but have not been recognized as unions by their employers. Until that happens, they don't have legal status as collective bargaining units.)

Dozens of protesters including flight attendants, baggage handlers, and religious leaders turned Alaska Air Group’s annual shareholders meeting into a raucous affair on Tuesday.

The protest began outside with chanting flight attendants who haven’t reached a new contract with the company after 18 months of negotiations.

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public facilities
8:01 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Seattle wants to give free-standing public toilets another go

The so-called Portland Loo is seen in this photo.
City of Portland

Five years after Seattle had to get rid of its free-standing public toilet structures, Mayor Mike McGinn wants to give it another go, this time with a new design. 

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Airport worker wage
5:01 am
Fri May 17, 2013

Sea-Tac workers aim for pay raise with ballot initiative

Elaine Thompson Associated Press

Workers at Sea-Tac Airport are trying to get a big pay raise by way of a ballot initiative. If approved, the increase would put them 60 percent over the state’s minimum wage of $9.19 per hour.

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digital culture
5:01 am
Thu May 16, 2013

Why I ditched my smartphone

Ashley Gross' "dumb phone" is seen next to her co-workers' smartphones in this photo.

By the end of this year, about one and a half billion people will have a smartphone. That’s one for every five people on the planet—and remember, that number includes babies.

But I'm one of the ones who longs for the good old days—you know, when phones were just used to call people. It's not that I'm a complete Luddite; I just have a hard time restraining myself with such a cool gadget and not letting it take over my life. That's why I decided to ditch my smartphone. 

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Arts
4:25 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

Seattle Symphony, Opera musicians approve contract

Jessie Hodge

Labor disputes have shut down performances across the country, but Seattle Symphony and Seattle Opera fans don’t have to worry about cancelations anytime soon. The musicians have agreed to a new contract. 

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Boeing in Washington
3:50 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

Inslee begins effort to secure Boeing's next jet

FILE - In this June 14, 2012 photo, a worker on the Boeing 737 assembly line works under a wing in Renton, Wash.
Ted S. Warren Associated Press

  Washington Gov. Jay Inslee wants to streamline government permitting and review aerospace incentives in order to help convince Boeing Co. to build its 777X jetliner in the state.

Inslee said Thursday that other strategies that lawmakers need to implement include improving the state's transportation corridors and investing in education and workforce training programs. He added those efforts can help preserve thousands of jobs.

"Today what we are doing is starting for the competition not just for the 777x but for the replacement of the 737. We’re getting ready for that today. We’re thinking long-term," the governor said.

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workplace safety
5:26 pm
Tue May 7, 2013

Number of on-the-job deaths falls, Wash. ranks third lowest

Andre Mondou Flickr

Washington state seems to be a safer place for workers than most other places in the country. A new report says the state has the third lowest workplace fatality rate in the nation. 

New Hampshire had the lowest workplace death rate, followed by Rhode Island, then Washington. The three states with the highest on-the-job death rates were North Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.

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May Day 2013
5:05 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

In wake of May Day mayhem, businesses assess damage

Don Stevens, owner of Bill's Off Broadway, stands next to his broken window.
Ashley Gross KPLU

Business owners are assessing the damage after some anti-capitalist protesters broke windows in Seattle last night. Only a handful sustained property damage, but many more businesses were affected financially.

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e-books
10:07 am
Thu May 2, 2013

Amazon makes Kindle app to make e-books accessible to the blind

Blind protesters marching outside Amazon's headquarters in December
Ashley Gross KPLU

Amazon has released an app that makes it easier for the blind to read Kindle electronic books on iPhones. Advocates for blind people say it’s a significant step for a company that’s lagged other technology companies in making accessible products.

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May Day events
7:00 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

No show of violence as thousands gather for May Day rally, march

A speaker is seen addressing the crowd at Judkins Park.
Justin Steyer

A planned rally and march for workers and immigration reform progressed without interruptions by anarchists Wednesday, easing fears of another violent May Day.

Thousands of people gathered at Judkins Park, behind St. Mary's Church, for the Rally for Workers and Immigrant Rights at 1 p.m. Several unions were present, as were some representatives of the Occupy movement. Many people were displaying the flags of U.S. and Mexico, as well as signs urging comprehensive immigration reform. 

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King County Metro cuts
3:37 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

King Co. Metro urges lawmakers to pass transpo funding package

Atomic Taco

Even if you don’t ride the bus, you may feel the brunt of possible service cuts by King County Metro as roads get more crowded with cars. That’s one of the messages leaders of King County Metro told the Seattle City Council.

They’re urging the state Legislature to pass a transportation revenue package in the special session that starts in several weeks. 

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marijuana opportunities
7:56 am
Mon April 29, 2013

Marijuana Gold Rush begins as investors hunt for opportunities

ArcView CEO Troy Dayton showing a recent Fortune magazine cover story on his group and the world of marijuana investing
Ashley Gross KPLU

The first state-licensed marijuana stores are still almost a year away, but business-minded people are already chasing profits. Today, entrepreneurs are pitching their pot-related ideas to dozens of wealthy investors in Seattle. 

San Francisco-based ArcView Investor Network arranged the private forum akin to the TV show “Shark Tank.” Entrepreneurs will have a few minutes to pitch their idea—which includes everything from better grow lights to handheld vaporizers, to mobile apps for marijuana retailers—and explain why their idea is a worthy investment.

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Business
4:52 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

Starbucks sales and profit climb, company adds 590 new stores

pure9 Flickr

If you have a daily Starbucks fix, you’re not alone. The company took in $3.6 billion in revenue in the most recent quarter. 

Starbucks added 590 stores around the world— including Ho Chi Minh City—in the first three months of this year. And they weren’t just coffee shops; more than 300 were tea shops that Starbucks acquired through its purchase of Teavana.

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Amazon earnings
3:47 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

Amazon profit falls, but analyst says not to worry

An Amazon Kindle Fire HD is seen on introduction in Santa Monica, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012.
Reed Saxon Associated Press

Amazon’s first-quarter profit dropped 37 percent, but at least one analyst says that’s nothing to worry about; it's all part of Amazon's master plan to keep edging out competitors by investing deeply.

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Boeing Dreamliner
9:15 am
Wed April 24, 2013

Boeing aims for mid-May restart of 787 deliveries

Boeing says it will begin delivering 787s again in early May.

The 787 has been grounded since mid-January because of smoldering batteries. Federal authorities have approved Boeing's redesigned battery system.

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