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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Minimum Wage
2:03 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

SeaTac Parking Lot Company Fires Workers Who Complained About Not Getting $15/Hour

Supporters of a $15 minimum wage applaud behind a speaker at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport during a news conference Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

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Affordable Housing
4:05 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Study: Seattle Worker Needs Min. Wage Of $21.60/Hour To Afford Two-Bedroom Rental

Two-bedroom apartments at AVA Ballard start at $2,125 a month. The National Low Income Housing Coalition uses a HUD-estimated fair market rent of $1,123 for a two-bedroom apartment in Seattle to calculate the housing wage.
Ashley Gross KPLU

Even hiking the minimum wage to $15 an hour may not be enough to allow low-wage workers to afford rent in Seattle, according to a new study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. 

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Minimum Wage
4:51 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Starbucks CEO Schultz: $15 Minimum Wage Would Be Hard For Small Businesses

Howard Schultz, left, chairman and CEO of Starbucks Coffee Company, stands with Oprah Winfrey, right, after they announced their partnership to offer Teavana Oprah Chai tea, Wednesday, March 19, 2014, at Starbucks' annual shareholders meeting in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says a $15 per hour minimum wage in Seattle may not have such a big effect on his company, but he’s concerned it would hit small- and medium-sized businesses hard.

The issue of raising the minimum wage has dominated headlines in Seattle ever since Kshama Sawant, who has been pushing for the increase, won a city council seat last fall.

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Helicopter Crash
4:43 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

NTSB Investigating Fatal KOMO News Helicopter Crash Near Space Needle

Investigators look through the charred wreckage of a news helicopter and two vehicles after the chopper crashed into a city street near the Space Needle, Tuesday, March 18, 2014, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Two people were killed inside a news helicopter when it crashed outside the KOMO-TV studios near the Space Needle in Seattle, sending clouds of black smoke into the sky during the rush hour at 7:40 a.m. Tuesday.

In addition to the fatalities, Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore said a man managed to free himself from one of the burning cars at the accident scene. He was taken to Harborview Medical Center for treatment of serious burns. The man, who was initially listed in critical condition, was upgraded to serious condition Tuesday afternoon.

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Taxis vs. Rideshare Services
3:51 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Seattle City Council Approves Driver Cap For Rideshare Companies

Wessen Darge, a taxi driver of more than 20 years, says his income is down about 35 percent in the past year as a result of exploding competition from rideshare companies.
Ashley Gross

After working on new regulations for about a year, the Seattle City Council on Monday voted unanimously to limit the number of rideshare drivers who can be active at any one time.

Companies like UberX, Lyft and Sidecar will be able to each have 150 drivers active on the dispatch system at a given time. Those so-called "transportation network companies" let drivers use their personal vehicles and connect with passengers via smartphone applications.

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Labor Dispute
12:21 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Mental Health Clinicians In Thurston, Mason And Grays Harbor Counties Go On Strike

Clinicians are on strike in Olympia, Wash.
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW

More than 150 case managers, therapists and other employees of Behavioral Health Resources have walked off the job for a three-day strike. The agency provides mental-health and substance-abuse services in Thurston, Mason and Grays Harbor counties, mostly to Medicaid recipients.

The agency is in deep financial straits and had to take out a line of credit to make payroll in December.

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Minimum Wage
3:08 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Parking Lot Workers In SeaTac Say Their Boss Isn't Paying The $15 Minimum Wage

Last December, workers marched from SeaTac to Seattle in support of $15 minimum wage.
Ashley Gross

At the beginning of the year, the minimum wage in the city of SeaTac jumped to $15 an hour for workers at large hotels and parking lot companies. But employees at one parking lot business have complained to the city that they still haven’t gotten the raise almost three months later. 

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Transportation
12:20 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Report: Poor Roads, Congestion Cost Seattle-Area Drivers $1,800 A Year

This photo shows a traffic jam at Spring Street and Third Avenue in Seattle.
Oran Viriyincy

Seattle-area drivers are losing about $1,800 a year due to driving on poor roads, congestion delays and traffic crashes on roads that are unsafe, according to a new report by TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group. The same report says drivers are wasting 48 hours a year stuck in traffic.

The report highlighted the large number of roads in the city and the state in need of repair, and the costs to drivers from things like wear and tear on their vehicles.

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Labor Dispute
4:20 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Space Needle Owners Violated Federal Labor Law, Administrative Law Judge Finds

File image
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

The owners of Seattle’s most famous landmark, the Space Needle, violated federal labor law, according to an administrative law judge with the National Labor Relations Board. 

The landmark that dominates Seattle's skyline is owned by Space Needle LLC, a private company owned by the descendants of the construction entrepreneur Howard S. Wright. The company he founded later built the Space Needle for the 1962 World's Fair. A spokesman says the company plans to appeal the judge's decision.

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Boeing Dreamliner
2:13 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Boeing Inspecting About 40 Undelivered Dreamliners For Possible Wing Cracks

Dreamliners in production at Boeing's Everett factory
Ashley Gross KPLU

Boeing says it is inspecting about 40 Dreamliners that may have hairline cracks in their wings. No planes in service are affected; the issue only affects some aircraft still in production.

Company spokesman Doug Alder says the wing manufacturer, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, told Boeing that a change in their manufacturing process may have caused the cracks, which Alder says are very small.

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Business
3:06 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Boeing Shifts 26,000 Non-Union Workers In The Seattle Region Away From A Pension

Boeing plans to shift its non-union employees away from a defined benefit pension plan, including about 26,000 workers in the Puget Sound region. 

In January, machinists here narrowly accepted a similar pension freeze to win the 777X production line. Now, Boeing’s including non-union employees in the retirement plan change because the company says its pension obligation is unsustainable.

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Minimum Wage
5:00 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Regional Economist Dick Conway Says $15 Minimum Wage Is 'Not Outrageous’

File image
AP Photo

 (Editor's note: This has been updated to include Conway's analysis on the minimum wage that he presented in his March 2014 issue of The Puget Sound Economic Forecaster.)

For hours on Wednesday, people spoke up both for and against the proposal to raise Seattle’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. At 60 percent higher than the state’s current minimum wage, it’s an eye-popping number. 

But well-known regional economist Dick Conway says the figure is not so crazy.

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Business
5:00 am
Thu March 6, 2014

$15 Minimum Wage Forum Draws Heated Arguments On Both Sides

Workers and activists showed up to speak in favor of a $15/hour minimum wage
Ashley Gross KPLU

Business owners, union members, restaurant employees and activists each got two minutes Wednesday night to say their piece about a higher minimum wage in Seattle. The city council and a committee appointed by Mayor Ed Murray held the forum as they weigh possibly hiking the wage floor to $15 an hour. 

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Minimum Wage
4:43 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Labor Secretary Mum On Whether Seattle's $15 Minimum Wage Idea Makes Sense

FILE - In this April 18, 2013, file photo, Labor Secretary nominee Thomas Perez testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on his nomination.
Molly Riley AP Photo

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez says he supports the idea of a higher minimum wage, but he wouldn’t comment on whether Seattle’s proposed rate of $15 per hour makes sense. Perez made the comments during a visit to Boeing’s Renton factory Monday.

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Labor Unions
5:00 am
Fri February 28, 2014

UW Professor Traces Growing Income Gap To The Collapse Of Organized Labor

Low-wage workers march from SeaTac to Seattle to advocate for a $15 per hour minimum wage.
Ashley Gross KPLU

Income inequality in the U.S. is at its highest point in 85 years, and politicians are debating ways to raise the living standard for low-wage workers. Globalization, technology and deregulation are often cited as factors behind the widening income gap. But Jake Rosenfeld at the University of Washington says there’s one cause that’s often overlooked: the decline of organized labor.

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