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
5:00 am
Thu January 10, 2013

Did the Boeing engineers' strike of 2000 succeed in the long run?

SPEEA

When Boeing engineers and technicians walked off the job 13 years ago, they said it wasn’t just for more money. They wanted to improve the culture of the company and chart a new course for organized labor. Did they succeed?

At first blush, it looked like a resounding success. The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, or SPEEA, had won a contract with everything they had asked for. Executive Director Charlie Bofferding was triumphant in an interview with KING 5.

“We’re interacting now based on power and respect, and that’s where we want to be,” Bofferding said.

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Business
5:00 am
Wed January 9, 2013

Boeing engineers' strike in 2000 casts shadow over current talks

Strikers march to Boeing headquarters
SPEEA

Boeing engineers and the company are supposed to meet with a federal mediator today – but union leaders say the two sides are still far apart. Looming over the negotiations is a memory that's 13 years old, but still fresh for many.

In early 2000, Boeing engineers and technicians did what nobody expected them to do – walk off the job and stay off.

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Business
12:01 pm
Thu January 3, 2013

Boeing likely back on top as #1 airplane maker

Boeing exceeded its 2012 delivery goals, partly by speeding production of the 787
Ashley Gross KPLU

Boeing appears to have reclaimed the crown from Airbus as the world’s top commercial airplane maker. 

Much of that stems from strong execution on the  787 Dreamliner, a plane that until recently was the butt of jokes for being three years late. Yair Reiner is an analyst with Oppenheimer & Co. in New York.

"For an industry that had grown really accustomed to having the 787 perpetually miss its targets, in 2012, it hit them," Reiner said.

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Arts
5:00 am
Fri December 28, 2012

Seattle's Museum of History and Industry to host grand opening

touristguy87

Tomorrow is a big day for Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry. The museum is hosting a grand opening at its new location near South Lake Union in the former Naval Reserve Armory. The museum will be free all day, with special events like musical performances and craft activities.

Leonard Garfield, executive director of the museum known as MOHAI, says they’ve greatly expanded their collection.

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Sports
5:00 am
Thu December 27, 2012

How do you cope with the dark days of winter?

Recipe for fighting the winter blues? Get outside in the snow
Mike Dole

We’ve made it past the psychological hurdle of solstice, so we can look forward to more daylight – eventually. But in the weeks before we really can notice a difference, how do you cope with the darkness?

Folks in downtown Seattle shared their tips, including:

"I don't care if it's raining or not, if I have to go out to run, I go out and run," said Kassonga Mwamba, who's originally from South Africa.

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Business
5:00 am
Thu December 20, 2012

Seattle inventors create a more realistic souvenir: `RainGlobes'

The real Seattle RainGlobe (left) and the original prototype (right)
Ashley Gross KPLU

File this story under the category, "I should have thought of that." A team of Seattle entrepreneurs has created a souvenir that pokes fun at our soggy climate. Their invention? "RainGlobes" - that's their trademarked name.

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Business
4:24 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

Tacoma News Tribune joins other newspapers in charging for digital access

If you read a lot of articles on the Tacoma News Tribune web site, you’re going to have to start paying. The News-Tribune is joining the growing ranks of newspapers that are saying no more free lunch when it comes to reading online.

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Business
4:56 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

Sea-Tac airport worker complaints spark state investigation

State inspectors have opened an investigation after more than 50 workers at Sea-Tac International Airport filed complaints over working conditions.

The complaints come from a wide range of ground-crew workers – people who operate refueling trucks, people who clean airplanes, people who push passengers around by wheelchair. Some say they’ve had to clean up blood and vomit without proper training or protection like gloves. Others say they have to work with inadequate equipment, like nozzles that leak jet fuel and trucks with faulty brakes.

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Business
3:45 pm
Wed December 12, 2012

Blind protesters march at Amazon over Kindle accessibility

Ashley Gross KPLU

Dozens of visually impaired people with white canes and guide dogs protested outside Amazon.com’s headquarters in Seattle today. They say Amazon’s Kindle e-readers aren’t fully accessible to the blind

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Business
8:54 am
Wed December 12, 2012

National Federation of the Blind to protest at Amazon.com

Blind people say Amazon's Kindle devices and apps lack functions that they need
thekellyscope

Update: An Amazon.com spokeswoman did return my call after this story aired, but declined to comment.

Blind people – including former New York Governor David Paterson – are planning to protest at Amazon.com today. They want the company to make its Kindle device and apps more accessible to the visually impaired, especially kids as e-readers start to be used in schools. 

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Business
7:29 am
Fri December 7, 2012

Picket training begins as SPEEA preps for a possible Boeing strike

Ashley Gross KPLU

Contract talks between Boeing and its engineers union are suspended till after the new year. But the union, SPEEA, is not standing still - they're training picket captains for a possible strike.

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Business
8:54 am
Wed December 5, 2012

Would you work harder if you owned a slice of the company?

Workers own and run the Arizmendi bakery chain in the San Francisco Bay Area
Premshree Pillai

Disputes between workers and management have dominated headlines lately – the Hostess bakery shutdown, protests at Walmart, engineers pitted against Boeing.

But there is another business model that promises greater harmony – worker-owned cooperatives. A team of filmmakers from Whidbey Island, Melissa  Young and Mark Dworkin, has just released a documentary about worker-owned businesses called Shift Change. It screens Thursday night in Seattle at Pacific Place Theater. Young spoke with KPLU about the film.

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Politics
7:20 am
Tue December 4, 2012

Seattle city council president says state may have to raise taxes to fund schools

The president of the Seattle City Council says the state needs to make sure it adequately funds schools – and that may mean the state has to raise taxes. 

The state of Washington faces a grim budget deficit – more than $2.5 billion over the next two years, by one estimate. At the same time, the state also has to boost money for schools, according to a state supreme court decision.

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Politics
5:00 am
Tue December 4, 2012

Tacoma residents face cuts to everything from library hours to fire service

Tacoma’s City Council will vote this afternoon to slash the city budget by 15 percent - with cuts to pretty much everything, including the police and fire departments.

City Manager T.C. Broadnax took the job in February from San Antonio, Texas. He says he knew Tacoma had some cutting to do – but as he dug into the numbers, he realized spending was deeply out of whack and anticipated revenue was not there.

The housing slump continues to hurt property tax revenue,and  money from sales tax hasn’t bounced back. Broadnax says Tacoma had been trying to put off cuts for years.

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Business
12:35 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Boeing wants a federal mediator to help with SPEEA talks

SPEEA members rejected an earlier contract offer from Boeing by 96 percent.
The Associated Press

After months of unsuccessful contract negotiations, Boeing says it wants a federal mediator to help resolve its contract dispute with SPEEA, the union that represents about 23,000 engineers and technicians in the Puget Sound region.

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