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

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.

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW

About 1,100 hospital workers went on a 24-hour strike Tuesday at Saint Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma and Saint Clare Hospital in Lakewood, saying they’re frustrated they haven’t yet been able to work out new contracts with their employer, CHI Franciscan.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Seattle Housing Authority residents will rally Monday in protest of the agency’s plans to raise rents for some tenants, and some of them plan to testify at the housing authority’s board meeting where they'll ask the agency to drop the plan.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Public housing residents in Seattle have been speaking out for months against a plan by the Seattle Housing Authority to hike rents. Now Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has announced two nominees for the housing agency’s board that tenant advocates hope will quash the plan.

Birdy206 / Flickr

Terminal operators at West Coast ports say longshore workers are slowing down work to win leverage in contract talks. Now exports of potatoes appear to be part of the collateral damage.

Ron Doke / Flickr

In recent years, corporate America has made a big push to hire veterans that seems to be paying off. Statistics show that veterans have a lower unemployment rate now than the overall population.

But that’s not the case for women veterans who have served since 9/11. Their unemployment rate of 11.2 percent is almost double the national rate of 5.8 percent. For men who have served since 9/11, the unemployment rate is 6.2 percent.

But when you start to try to figure out why women who served in the past decade or so are lagging in the job market, it quickly becomes apparent there are no easy answers.

The Boeing Company

If you’ve never stepped on a Dreamliner, this weekend may be your chance. Boeing is donating one of its early Dreamliners to Seattle’s Museum of Flight, and Saturday will be the first day the public can go inside. 

Museum spokesman Mike Bush says getting the Dreamliner is a big win.

Birdy206 / Flickr

The operators of West Coast port terminals say the International Longshore and Warehouse Union is engaged in a work slowdown at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma. The two sides have been negotiating for about six months to reach a new contract.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Imagine being cut loose from your regular work responsibilities for four months to dream up ingenious ways to get your coworkers to donate to charity.

Kārlis Dambrāns / Flickr

Microsoft has given layoff notices to 3,000 more workers worldwide, with 638 of them in the Puget Sound region, according to a spokesman for the company.

Jason Brackins / Flickr

Amazon disappointed investors Thursday by posting a bigger loss than expected, sending its shares down 11 percent in after-hours trading.

seiuhealthcare775NW / Flickr

Seattle voters will have to choose between two ballot measures that both aim to help improve education for preschoolers, but in different ways.

The city’s plan, Proposition 1B, would set up a pilot program of subsidized preschool using a property tax levy.

The competing measure, Proposition 1A, is sponsored by two unions, Service Employees International Union Local 925 and American Federation of Teachers, a national teachers’ union affiliated with AFL-CIO.

Prop. 1A calls for a quicker path to a minimum wage of $15 an hour for child care teachers and would set a city policy that states no family should have to spend more than 10 percent of the household income on child care.

One other provision that’s drawn less attention is a plan to set up a system of training in which the unions would play a bigger role. 

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