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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Media
9:31 am
Wed March 27, 2013

Looking For 'Oxygen,' Small Papers Erect Digital Pay Walls

In Long Beach, Wash., Chinook Observer editor and publisher Matt Winters has overseen his paper's transition to the Internet and, more recently, to a pay wall.
Ashley Gross for NPR

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 5:38 am

The Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle recently said they will start charging readers for online content, joining big papers like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Some large papers have made it work because they offer a lot of unique content.

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Business
4:36 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

Sea-Tac baggage handlers and cabin cleaners sign union cards

Sea-Tac workers march to their employers to deliver letters saying they've signed cards to join unions
Working Washington

(Editor's note May 23, 2013: Corrects to clarify that workers have signed cards to join unions but haven't been recognized as unions by their employers. Until they're recognized, they don't have legal status as collective bargaining units.)

After a year of agitating over working conditions, more than 1,000 workers at Sea-Tac Airport say they have now signed cards to join unions.

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Business and labor
1:44 pm
Fri March 22, 2013

Boeing to lay off 800 local machinists, shrink workforce

Associated Press

The Boeing Co. will lay off approximately 800 local workers in the Puget Sound area as part of a larger plan to reduce local headcount by 2,000 to 2,300 people, the company said Friday.

Spokesman Doug Alder said affected employees are machinists who handle refurbishment and change incorporation — implementing necessary post-production updates — to the 787 and the 747-8 models.

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Business
5:00 am
Fri March 22, 2013

How can T-Mobile compete against the big guys? Merge, merge, merge

Thomas Hawk

The merger of Bellevue-based T-Mobile USA and its smaller rival, MetroPCS, has won regulatory approval and will likely move forward. But one analyst says even the combined company may not be large enough to compete with the biggest wireless carriers.

For a mobile phone company, having the biggest, fastest network is what counts, especially as more and more people use smartphones to stream video or listen to Pandora.

Morningstar analyst Allan Nichols says MetroPCS will give T-Mobile a much-needed boost of wireless spectrum as well as faster technology.

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Business
5:18 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

City of Seattle: Shoot your TV commercial here

Maureen "Mo" Reilly Flickr

Seattle plans to launch a new marketing campaign to showcase the city as an ideal setting for television commercials.  

Sure, we get more rain than Los Angeles, but it’s also about 30 percent cheaper to shoot a commercial in Seattle. And does L.A. have volcanoes? I don’t think so.

"You can get to the mountains. You can get to a rainforest. You can find beaches," says George Riddell, who produces commercials through his Seattle-based company Big House.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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