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

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. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Boeing reported that earnings and revenue climbed in its most recent quarter. But the stock fell on worries about when the 787 Dreamliner program will become profitable. One analyst says there’s another concern for investors: the recent drop in oil prices.

Courtesy of Rex Hohlbein

Seattle architect Rex Hohlbein had been designing luxury homes for decades when his focus suddenly turned to the homeless.

Hohlbein says it all started during his morning bike ride to the office. He met a man named Chiaka. This encounter would change his life. 

Take 87 seconds to hear Hohlbein tell his story:

courtesy of Dr. Monica Coleman

Monica Coleman has an impressive resume (bachelor’s degree from Harvard, master’s of divinity from Vanderbilt, Ph.D. from Claremont School of Theology), and she doesn’t shy away from talking about tough or deeply personal things.

She’s spoken out about her own trauma of having been raped and her disappointment with the inept and sometimes callous response from church leaders to victims of sexual violence.

But as open as Coleman has been about her experience as a victim of sexual assault, there was another part of herself she kept hidden for years — her struggle with debilitating depression.

JBLM PAO / Flickr

More than 8,000 service members at Joint Base Lewis-McChord will be leaving the military in each of the next few years as the military draws down its force levels. The base is aiming to help them find work, and this week it’s holding its biggest ever jobs summit

Thomas Hawk / Flickr

Against a backdrop of Boeing labor relations that one analyst described as the worst he’s ever seen, former Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Alan Mulally delivered some advice on how to boost morale: work together and include everyone.

401(k) 2012 / Flickr

Washingtonians pay the highest cellphone bill tax rates in the country while Oregonians enjoy the lowest tax burden, according to a new report.

Tender Young Pony of Insomnia / Flickr

After years of stealing each other’s customers, the ports of Seattle and Tacoma are going to work together. They’re not merging into one entity, but they’ve formed what they’re calling a seaport alliance to jointly run the marine cargo terminals and market to customers together. 

J / Flickr

Seattle City Council members have moved to regulate so-called micro-housing developments, saying they’ve struck a compromise between allowing these tiny apartments to get built while at the same time allowing more community input on design.  

Scott Sady / AP Photo

Amazon warehouse workers will have their moment before the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday when the justices will hear arguments in a case over whether the workers should be paid for time spent waiting to go through security screenings. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Unions representing Boeing engineers and machinists are pushing Washington state lawmakers to toughen a package of aerospace tax breaks passed last year. They’re aiming to make it harder for Boeing to move work out of state.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Protesters broke out in chants and disrupted a public hearing held by the Seattle Housing Authority on Monday night. They were protesting the agency’s plan to raise rents for tenants who are deemed able to work. 

Dan Lighton / AP Photo

Boeing plans to move a large portion of its defense-related business out of Washington state, affecting about 2,000 people.

The company is shifting defense services and support work to Oklahoma City and St. Louis, as well as some additional work to Florida and Maryland. The programs affected include support work for Airborne Warning and Control Systems, Airborne Early Warning and Control as well as the F-22 Raptor.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant is criticizing Mayor Ed Murray’s newly created affordable housing committee, saying the group is skewed toward developers with not enough low-income housing advocates.

King County WA / Flickr

The economy in King County is booming, but county government is planning to cut more than 500 jobs to balance its budget. King County Executive Dow Constantine says the problem is that state laws restrict the ability of local government to raise taxes to keep up with growth. 

Many residents of public housing in Seattle are facing the possibility of steep rent hikes. They’ll have a chance this week at two public hearings to voice their concerns about the Seattle Housing Authority’s plan.

Seattle Housing Authority provides subsidized housing for about 13,000 low-income households. The agency sets the rent at 30 percent of the tenant’s income. But now, SHA is proposing to raise rent every couple of years. By the sixth year, it would have jumped more than fivefold. People with disabilities, the elderly and people under the age of 24 would be exempt.

Loco Steve / Flickr

A union representing railroad conductors and switchmen has rejected a plan from BNSF Railway to operate some freight trains with a single employee. Many union members said the proposal raised serious safety concerns. 

BNSF runs important routes throughout the Pacific Northwest, from British Columbia to Portland and across the country.

Battles over labor law are usually the stuff of Congress or state legislatures. But a conservative group says people who want to reduce the power of public employee unions should take matters into their own hands and change laws, city by city.

Zac Davis Photography

Zac Davis has lived all around the Puget Sound region — Issaquah, Bellevue, Bremerton, Bainbridge Island. But about six years ago, he moved to Seattle’s Rainier Beach neighborhood.

He was drawn to the vibrancy of the area, pulsing with different languages and cultures. He describes this as we walk down the street, past African women with their heads covered and moving smoothly in their long robes.

“In my cul-de-sac alone, there’s probably four languages spoken, and yet we manage to have a block party every summer,” he said. “It makes us stronger.”

The union that represents about 33,000 independent home care workers in Washington says it has reached a tentative contract with the state that would boost their average hourly pay to more than $14 by the beginning of 2017. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Cybercriminals, terrorists, white collar bankers - U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan has taken on all of them in her five years on the job in Western Washington. Now, she says she’s stepping down at the end of the month after holding the post for five years.

She was among the first six U.S. attorneys nominated by President Barack Obama in May 2009 and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in September 2009.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to clarify the timeline of when Microsoft opened its Nevada office and when the state lowered its royalty tax. The updated version also adds that Microsoft declined to say how much state royalty tax the company has paid.

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