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

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Seattle voters are getting ready to choose who will represent their district. Seven district seats will be decided, as well at two at large positions. KPLU’s election series, Back On The Block, revisits issues affecting each district and introduces us to the candidates.

Richard Drew / AP Photo

Microsoft quietly cut jobs this week but released few details. That news comes in what’s otherwise been a good week for the company as the stock reached a 15-year high.  

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing reported third-quarter earnings and revenue that topped analyst estimates, but the company hinted at a possible lower production rate for its wide-body 777 jet. 

Revenue climbed 9 percent to $25.8 billion, topping analysts' consensus estimate of $24.7 billion, according to the financial research company, Factset. Boeing's net earnings jumped 25 percent. The company delivered a record 199 airplanes in the quarter.

Elaine Thompson / AP

Cities around the globe are competing for jobs, and especially good, middle-class jobs. A new study says Seattle has fallen a bit behind some other cities, in part, because of problems with infrastructure.

The study compares Seattle with cities around the world that are a similar size and type of economy – for example, San Francisco, Singapore, Boston, Amsterdam.

PR NEWSWIRE

This is a big week for earnings reports from some of our region’s biggest companies.

Microsoft investors will be watching to see if the company’s gaining ground in cloud computing against a rival right here in the neighborhood.

Amazon is the leader in cloud computing. That’s where businesses tap into big server farms run by the likes of Microsoft or Amazon instead of buying their own machines. It’s a fast-growing business and Amazon’s had the edge, but there’s still plenty of time, says Rob Helm, managing vice president with the research firm Directions On Microsoft.

Oregon Department of Forestry / Flickr

The aviation industry faces increased pressure to lower its carbon footprint. There has long been a hope that alternative jet fuels could be the answer, and this week in Seattle, experts on such fuels will gather to present their research. 

In June, the Obama administration took the first step toward regulating greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes. So that is an additional incentive to airplane makers and airlines to reduce pollution.

hackNY.org / Flickr

There are many computer scientists these days trying to create machines that can make connections the way human brains do; but it is not an easy task.

Now the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence is sponsoring a contest to see whose software can best answer 8th grade science questions. 

Patrick Rodriguez via Wikimedia Commons

Tacoma voters have less than a month to decide whether to raise the city’s minimum wage, and if so, how much. Thursday evening, debaters at Pacific Lutheran University will give their best arguments in favor and against a $15 minimum wage.

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Washington aerospace businesses are meeting this week in Spokane for an annual statewide summit, where they are planning to talk about some of the industry’s most pressing issues, including reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. 

Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

The recent New York Times feature about Amazon’s internal culture is still generating lots of discussion about work-life balance. At a recent tech summit sponsored by the technology publication Geekwire, two former Amazon executives told the crowded ballroom that they thought the article was too negative. 

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Amazon has been growing so fast in Seattle that the company has lately been blamed for everything from too few women in the dating pool to traffic gridlock and rising rents. Now, the company is trying to show how having its campus in Seattle is a benefit to the city. 

Library of Congress

The International Franchise Association has lost another round in its legal fight over Seattle’s $15 minimum wage ordinance. The association sued Seattle arguing that the law is unfair to businesses that are part of a national franchise network. Seattle requires that franchisees be counted in the large employer category and pay the higher wage more quickly than small businesses. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

On the day that Chinese President Xi Jinping toured Boeing's wide-body jet factory in Everett, Boeing announced a deal to sell 300 airplanes to Chinese airlines and leasing companies and build a 737 completion and delivery center in China. 

Elaine Thompson / AP

Clean energy is a big part of the Chinese president’s agenda while he’s in Seattle. That includes a focus on nuclear power – an issue that Microsoft founder Bill Gates has been working on. 

In 2006, Gates helped launch a Bellevue-based company called TerraPower. He invested money in it and became chairman. TerraPower is working on what Gates calls a next-generation nuclear reactor.

The reactor that TerraPower is working on uses depleted uranium for fuel. Essentially, it would run on nuclear waste. Gates says that’s more fuel efficient and safer.

SounderBruce / Flickr

The strong economic ties between China and Washington state are in the spotlight this week with the upcoming visit by China’s president. Real estate development has gotten a boost from Chinese investors in recent years, but one key program that facilitates that investment is set to expire this month. 

Saul Loeb / AP

When the Chinese president visits Seattle next week, he’ll take time to drop in at a Tacoma high school. That visit is the result of lots of behind-the-scenes effort in Tacoma and in the Chinese city of Fuzhou. The two municipalities have long ties with each other.

Gregory Youtz is the chair of the Tacoma Fuzhou Sister City Program and a music professor at Pacific Lutheran University. He says a lot of Chinese people will be exposed to Tacoma because of the president’s visit.

Eino Sierpe / Flickr

Washington businesses that want to have a role in shaping minimum wage policies will get a chance to talk strategy this week. The Association of Washington Business is holding its annual policy summit, with one panel devoted to the hot-button issue of minimum wage hikes. 

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The Seattle teachers strike is now in its third day, and it’s stirring up memories for people who lived through past strikes, especially 35 miles north of Seattle in Marysville, which set a state record for the longest teacher walkout.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

There’s a new twist in the legal battle over the city of SeaTac’s $15 minimum wage ordinance. Alaska Airlines and other businesses are now asking the Washington Supreme Court to reverse its recent opinion, in which five of nine justices ruled that SeaTac’s minimum wage applies to workers at Sea-Tac International Airport.

The plaintiffs list a number of reasons why the court should reconsider, including their argument that SeaTac's minimum wage ordinance conflicts with federal labor law because the city law tries to do too much.

Chethan Shankar

Tourists visiting the Space Needle on Labor Day will see workers out picketing, as the unionized workforce at the Space Needle continues to put pressure on the private owners of Seattle’s iconic landmark. 

The labor dispute has been going on for years. The workers are represented by Unite Here Local 8, and their union has been pushing for a contract with protections against outsourcing of jobs.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

The death of a dairy farm worker in February is prompting a push for tougher safety laws and labor groups are asking the milk cooperative, Darigold, to meet to talk about improvements that can be made to protect workers. 

Sound Transit Special Selection / Flickr

Tacoma’s municipal broadband service, Click Network, has long been a point of pride. But now city officials are wrestling with the future of Click because it’s losing cable TV customers and facing higher programming costs.

In the late 1990s, Tacoma invested heavily to create Click with the hope of spurring economic development, but it’s struggled in recent years.

photo courtesy of Nubia Guajardo

Labor groups are planning a protest on Wednesday outside the Seattle headquarters of Darigold. They say the milk-processing company's parent, the dairy farm cooperative known as the Northwest Dairy Association, needs to do more to improve employee safety after a young worker’s death earlier this year. 

photo courtesy of Alyssa Menes

People who love games – everything from ones on the computer to board games – will dominate downtown Seattle this weekend attending the convention known as PAX Prime. People there can try out brand new games, learn how to make their own, or attend panels, including one about writing music for video games.

Alyssa Menes, a young woman composer from New Jersey, is one of the panelists.   

She grew up playing classic Nintendo games from the 1980s, games such as The Legend of Zelda, Mario, and Kid Icarus, and fell in love with those tunes.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

In a long anticipated decision, the Washington State Supreme Court has ruled the $15-an-hour minimum wage law narrowly approved by voters in the city of SeaTac in fall 2013 applies at Sea-Tac International Airport.

The court's 5-4 decision means that about 4,700 workers ranging from restaurant employees to baggage handlers should now be paid $15.24 an hour.

Nick Ut / AP Photo

A class-action lawsuit focused on the retirement accounts for about 190,000 Boeing employees and retirees heads to trial next week. The lawsuit, which was first filed nearly nine years ago, accuses Boeing of offering employees 401(k) retirement plans that charged excessive fees. 

AP Images

After a big public outcry, Seattle has scrapped a plan to allow a wider variety of housing types in areas zoned for single family homes.  But the idea is still alive in Tacoma, as the city considers changes to its comprehensive plan.

The proposal from Tacoma's Planning Commission would result in a mixture of lot sizes and home sizes, with some smaller houses such as cottages and detached mother-in-law units allowed.

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Ferrians

Amid the arts and crafts and concerts of Hempfest in Seattle this weekend, there will be one group of people delivering a somber message. Friends and family of Keaton Farris, the young man who died of dehydration and malnutrition in an Island County jail earlier this year, will hand out water bottles with his picture on the label as a way to raise awareness about the disturbing circumstances of his death.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing shares are up 8 percent this year and revenue has been climbing but the company still faces some big challenges. One of them is how to build 787s more cheaply.

Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith told investors at a conference in New York the company is working hard on that.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

You’re in downtown Seattle getting ready to drive onto the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Then, an alert comes over the radio or shows up on your phone saying an earthquake is about to strike, allowing you to pull over and avoid being on the elevated highway when it could collapse.

That’s an example of how getting even just a few seconds’ warning before a big earthquake hits could save lives. Such an alert system for the Pacific Northwest is being tested right now.

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