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."

Pages

Business
4:04 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

How do engineers safely test potentially-explosive batteries?

NTSB Materials Engineer Matt Fox examines the casing from the battery involved in the JAL Boeing 787 fire incident in Boston.
NTSB

Boeing will soon start testing its redesigned Dreamliner battery. Battery experts say that means engineers will have to experiment with flammable lithium-ion batteries to see if, well, they explode. 

Engineers subject the batteries to something called safety abuse testing — crushing them, sticking nails in them — to see what happens.

So how do engineers manage to stay safe? 

The trick, according to battery expert Dan Doughty, is to not get too close.

Read more
Business
2:28 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

FAA approves Boeing plan to fix 787's batteries

All Nippon Airways' Boeing 787 Dreamliner takes off for the company's first non-stop flight from San Jose to Tokyo at the San Jose International Airport in San Jose, Calif. on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013.
Marcio Jose Sanchez Associated Press

Federal regulators have approved a Boeing plan to redesign the 787 Dreamliner's fire-prone lithium-ion batteries, although extensive testing will be needed before the planes can fly passengers again.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday the plan includes a redesign of the internal battery components to minimize the possibility of short-circuiting, better insulation of the battery's eight cells and the addition of a new containment and venting system.

Read more
Business
5:04 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

More than 500 hospital workers strike in Olympia over health plans

More than 500 workers from Providence St. Peter Hospital are striking this week in Olympia. They’re protesting changes the company has made to their health plans.

The workers include nursing assistants, housekeepers and admitting staff. They say Providence raised their health plan deductibles in January, meaning they have to pay more out of pocket before their insurance kicks in.

Read more
Law
4:56 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

Police monitor to present plan to judge, police unions ask for an injunction

The Seattle Police Department needs to hire more sergeants to work closely with rank-and-file officers. That’s the view of an independent monitor, Merrick Bobb, who's looking into excessive use of force. He'll present his monitoring plan to a federal judge tomorrow for approval.

Read more
Business
5:00 am
Mon March 11, 2013

Next REI leader will have to confront the Amazon.com threat

Steve Cyr

REI may soon need a new leader if CEO Sally Jewell is confirmed as Interior Secretary. The next person to lead the outdoor gear retailer will confront a threat from another Northwest company – Amazon.com.

Read more
Business
4:46 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Former FAA chief explains FAA and NTSB relationship

The burned auxiliary power unit battery on the JAL 787 that is being investigated by the NTSB
NTSB

Federal safety investigators so far have been unable to pinpoint the root cause of a 787 Dreamliner battery fire. At the same time, the Federal Aviation Administration is weighing whether to let Boeing move ahead with tests of a new battery design. Does the FAA have to wait for the safety investigation to finish? The short answer is, no.

Read more
Business
4:23 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Longshoremen to appeal judge's ruling tossing out their arena lawsuit

Longshoremen in Seattle plan to appeal a recent judge’s ruling that threw out their challenge to a new Sonics basketball arena.

The longshoremen’s union argued that the city of Seattle, King County and investor Chris Hansen violated state environmental laws when they signed an agreement for the arena. They said that memorandum of understanding focuses too much on the site Hansen prefers – in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood. And that’s before an environmental review is finished.

Read more
Business
8:35 am
Mon March 4, 2013

More case workers needed to help tackle homelessness, group advises

A homeless woman at 3rd Avenue and Union in downtown Seattle
Alex O'Neal

More case workers are needed in Seattle to help move people out of emergency shelters into other kinds of housing. That’s one of the messages the Seattle City Council will hear today as they get an update on ways to tackle homelessness.

Read more
Business
5:00 am
Fri March 1, 2013

Boeing's latest move confirms nationwide trend to end pensions

Members of Boeing's engineering union tally contract votes. The company asked engineers and technicians to give up the pension for new hires
Ashley Gross KPLU

Boeing has been – until recently – one of the last remaining places in the corporate world where you could still get a pension in retirement. Now Boeing’s technical workers are being asked to drop the pension for new employees – it’s part of a broader strategy at the company.

Read more
Business
4:16 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

Judge frees two activists who refused to testify about anarchism

Two activists released say they had nothing to do with the May Day violence, but they were subpoenaed to testify to a grand jury
Erin Hennessey KPLU

Two young people who refused to testify to a grand jury about their ties to anarchists are getting out of prison today. They spent more than five months confined to a federal detention center in SeaTac until a judge ordered them released.

Read more
Business
4:55 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

Analyst calls SPEEA decision on Boeing contract 'total capitulation'

Boeing’s refusing to make any improvements in the contract it has offered technical workers. The union says it will now put that same offer out for another vote, a move that an analyst characterizes as giving up.

Read more
Business
9:10 am
Tue February 26, 2013

Space Needle workers say labor dispute is escalating

Chethan Shankar

A labor dispute is heating up between workers at the Space Needle and the private owners of Seattle’s most famous landmark.

Read more
Business
4:53 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Judge throws out lawsuit against Sonics arena

Investor Chris Hansen is trying to relocate the Sacramento Kings to Seattle
Marie Young-Cain

A King County judge has thrown out a lawsuit aimed at blocking a deal to build a new basketball arena in Seattle. That removes one obstacle to bringing back the Sonics NBA team.

Read more
Business
2:58 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

Boeing plans more defense cuts as U.S. budget shrinks

A C-17 Globemaster III airlifter
David Shane

Boeing executives say they’re cutting costs out of the defense side of their business to cope with shrinking U.S. military spending.

Here in the Puget Sound region, we associate Boeing with commercial jets. But the company has a massive defense business making everything from radar systems to fighter jets. That side of the business has trimmed billions of dollars in recent years because of declining U.S. military spending.

Read more
Business
5:00 am
Tue February 19, 2013

Boeing engineers' union to tally strike authorization vote

Ashley Gross KPLU

Boeing is facing the specter of a possible engineers’ strike even as the company races to get the 787 Dreamliner back in the air. Tonight, the engineers’ union will tally votes to see whether members have rejected the contract and authorized a strike.

Read more

Pages