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."

Ways To Connect

B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure / Flickr

A federal mediator has been appointed to help facilitate collective bargaining between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association, the group representing terminal operators up and down the West Coast.

The employers have been saying the longshoremen have deliberately slowed down work to gain leverage in contract talks. The workers say the slowdown is the result of other congestion problems, including a shortage of truck beds for carrying containers.

Starbucks

In news that will please Australians, New Zealanders and Brits living in the U.S., Starbucks says it will start selling a coffee drink known as the `flat white’ this week, and there’s one person in Seattle who’s particularly delighted. 

We first heard of the flat white last fall, when KPLU spoke with Aidan Lang, the new general director of the Seattle Opera.

Lang is from the U.K. but lived for years in New Zealand, and that’s where he first tasted what became his favorite coffee drink.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

This time of year, many of us have been buying pasta or cans of soup to contribute to food drives. But food banks say they could use donations that are more protein-rich. That’s exactly what SeaShare, a Bainbridge Island nonprofit, delivers in a unique way.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Listen closely to the music playing next time you’re grabbing coffee at Starbucks. If it’s a relaxing piano piece, it might just be the work of Tacoma teenager Marc Estabrook.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing has announced a deal with Kuwait Airways that could allay some concerns about its ability to sell enough of its current 777 wide-body jet. 

The Kuwaiti airline has finalized an order for ten 777-300ERs, the current version of Boeing's popular twin-engine, long-haul jet.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Seattle Housing Authority, which runs public housing in the city, has backed away from a proposed rental policy change that sparked protest, and now the agency says it won't put forth a new plan before 2016.

This past summer, SHA proposed a new policy called "Stepping Forward" in which it would no longer set rent at 30 percent of a tenant's income, and instead would charge rent based on the size of the unit.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

The price of crude oil has dropped to its lowest level in about five years and has fallen about 40 percent this year. That’s great for people filling up their gas tanks, but perhaps not such good news for a company like Boeing that’s made fuel-efficiency of its new airplanes a big selling point.

Now the company is explaining why the drop in oil prices is not cause for concern. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Gerry Pollet's name. We've also removed a sentence that said last year's tax preference extension hasn't yet gone into effect. It took effect July 9, 2014. 

Last year, the Washington state legislature extended aerospace tax breaks worth an estimated $8.7 billion in an effort to persuade Boeing to build the 777x jet here.  

The company did commit to build the plane here, but at the same time, Boeing has announced plans to move thousands of other jobs away. And that has some lawmakers in Olympia ready to require companies to meet tougher criteria to qualify for lower tax rates.

Scott Sady / AP Photo

Business groups are cheering a unanimous decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in a case brought by Amazon warehouse workers. The justices rejected the workers’ argument that they should be paid for the time spent waiting to go through security screenings.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

King County Metro Transit bus drivers are stepping up their pressure on officials to give them more bathroom breaks. On Monday, some workers picketed outside King County Executive Dow Constantine’s office to draw attention to what they say are unsafe and unhealthy working conditions.

Jerry Meaden / Flickr

In the wake of the financial meltdown of 2008, some cities have started exploring the idea of bypassing commercial banks by creating public banks. This Wednesday, a forum will explore the idea of Seattle creating its own lending institution

Sam Howzit / Flickr

Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz says his company is facing a "tidal wave of change" as people buy more online and less in brick and mortar stores, so he’s outlined a plan to attract even more people to his cafes even in the age of e-commerce. 

Friends of the Earth International / Flickr

Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of the World Trade Organization meeting that brought tens of thousands of protesters to Seattle. Now labor groups are once again sounding the alarm that new trade deals being negotiated may leave workers behind. 

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Five years ago, Seattle poet Heather McHugh got some unexpected news: She had been awarded a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” of $500,000.

For the next two years, she tried to figure out what to do with the money. The grant comes with no strings attached, but McHugh says she didn’t want to spend it on herself.

Brett Davis / Washington Farm Bureau

Steve Sakuma, one of the owners of Sakuma Brothers Farms, a Skagit Valley berry farm that’s been in the spotlight for a labor dispute, calls President Obama’s announcement on immigration a "good first step." But he says it doesn’t solve a labor shortage the farm has faced.

In the past, Sakuma has called the current immigration system broken, saying it’s not good to have so many workers living in the shadows and it limits their upward mobility. For that reason, Sakuma praised the president’s move to protect some workers from deportation and let them work here legally.

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