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
7:48 am
Tue April 9, 2013

Seattle area ranks the worst for gender-based wage gap

401(K)2013

The Seattle area has a dubious distinction – the biggest wage gap between men and women of any major metropolitan area in the country.

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Business
8:49 am
Mon April 8, 2013

Economist says Sacramento Kings fight may yield antitrust lawsuit

Kings fans show support for Sacramento
HeelSports

As the NBA weighs whether to allow the Kings basketball team to move to Seattle from Sacramento, the league has to consider the possibility of an antitrust lawsuit.

Why should the Sacramento Kings be worth more than $500 million when they’re nowhere near the top of the league? Sports economist Roger Noll of Stanford University says it’s simple: a scarce supply of teams. That's by design, he says, because NBA owners want to keep their franchises valuable. And that exposes the league to a possible lawsuit. 

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tenants' rights
3:42 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

ACLU suit: Tenant screening company illegally flagged woman

SalFalko Flickr

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a woman who says her decades-old drug convictions cost her a chance to rent an apartment—a violation of Washington state law. 

And hundreds others may have been illegally rejected for apartments in the state because of unfair background checks. 

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Law
2:59 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Seattle's veterans treatment court sees its first 2 grads

Two Vietnam veterans are celebrating a milestone in Seattle today: They’re the first graduates of a special treatment court set up for veterans.

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NBA in Seattle
5:10 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

McGinn, Constantine to meet with NBA officials in N.Y.

Seattle-area politicians will make their case to NBA leaders this week that the league should allow the Sacramento Kings to be transferred here.

The NBA will have to decide between rival offers from Seattle and Sacramento. At this Wednesday’s NBA meeting in New York, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine will explain how the city and county have committed to supporting the team’s transfer and building a new arena.

Constantine says he understands why Sacramento is trying so hard to keep the team, but that Seattle has more to offer.

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Business
5:00 am
Mon April 1, 2013

Best Seattle-area stock since 2008? (Surprise, it’s not Amazon)

InSapphoWeTrust

Sure, Amazon shares have done well over the past five years—up about 245 percent. And people fortunate enough to have bought Starbucks stock in March 2008 have seen their shares climb about 200 percent.

But the real standout stock in the Seattle area is Alaska Air Group. The shares have climbed more than 500 percent in the past five years.

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urban development
4:59 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Will South Lake Union rezone actually protect more views?

This artist's rendering reflects new height restrictions, anticipated development, and the resulting view of the Space Needle.
City of Seattle Planning and Development

Will allowing tall buildings in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood block views of the Space Needle? One Seattle City Council member says the rezone will actually preserve more views.

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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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