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
4:28 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Seattle Business Owners: $15 Minimum Wage Could Prove 'Possibly Fatal'

Peter Aaron
Ashley Gross

Seattle businesses are increasingly voicing concerns over the possibility of the city hiking the minimum wage to $15 an hour. On Thursday they brought those concerns to a mayor-appointed committee tasked with evaluating whether such a high minimum wage makes sense.

At $9.32 per hour, Washington state already has the highest minimum wage in the country, and $15 an hour represents a 60 percent increase.

“That kind of an immediate jump would have critical — and I don’t think it’s overly dramatic to say possibly fatal — consequences for our business,” said Peter Aaron, who owns Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

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Business
5:07 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Wireless Expert: T-Mobile CEO's 'Renegade' Approach Appears To Be Paying Off

FILE - T-Mobile CEO John Legere speaks during a news conference Tuesday, March 26, 2013 in New York.
Mary Altaffer AP Photo

T-Mobile lost more money in the most recent quarter than it did a year earlier, but one longtime wireless expert says the Bellevue company’s bid to shake up the mobile-phone industry appears to be paying off. 

T-Mobile has long been considered an afterthought in the mobile world, much smaller than giants like Verizon and AT&T. But for the past year and a half, the company’s had a new CEO, John Legere, who’s used that underdog status as an advantage.

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Tax Refund
5:00 am
Mon February 24, 2014

TurboTax Offers Taxpayers Option Of Getting Refund In Amazon Gift Card

File image
Paul Sakuma AP Photo

From car dealers to appliance stores, businesses know tax refund season is an important time of year. The average tax refund so far this year is $3,200 and more than three-quarters of taxpayers get a refund. 

Seattle's Amazon.com undoubtedly gets a boost already from that influx of cash. But this year, the company is aiming for more.

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Affordable Housing
5:59 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

As Ballard Complex Residents Face 75 Percent Rent Hike, Licata Calls For Future City Action

Residents protest outside Ballard's Lockhaven Apartments on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014.
Ashley Gross

Options are running out for tenants of an apartment complex in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood who are facing much higher rents once the new owner renovates their units. Seattle City Council members say more needs to be done to make sure other renters don’t face a similar plight.

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Labor Unions
5:00 am
Thu February 20, 2014

Volkswagen Vote Won't Stop Machinists From Continuing Boeing South Carolina Effort

FILE - In an Friday, April 27, 2012 photo, Boeing workers work gather around the first 787 manufactured at the company's assembly plant in North Charleston, S.C.
Bruce Smith AP Photo

The vote by Volkswagen workers in Tennessee to reject the United Auto Workers union has sent shock waves throughout the world of organized labor. And that setback is an example of why the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers faces an uphill battle organizing Boeing workers in South Carolina. 

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Employment
5:00 am
Mon February 17, 2014

Bill Would Prevent Employers From Asking About Arrests In Initial Job Applications

Taylor McKnight

These days, a common question on job applications is whether you’ve ever been arrested. But a growing number of states, including Minnesota and Massachusetts, have adopted laws to remove questions about criminal history from initial job applications. Sponsors of a bill in Olympia hope to add Washington to that list. 

House Bill 2545 would prevent employers from asking for non-conviction information in initial job applications. 

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Business
5:00 am
Fri February 14, 2014

Aviation Buffs Get To Embrace Their Inner Nerd At Annual 'Geek Fest'

Aviation Geek Fest 2013 attendees check out a model show at the Museum of Flight.
AirlineReporter.com

If you’re the kind of person who knows what the thrust on Boeing’s 747-8 engines is (66,500 pounds per engine), or if you spend hours snapping pictures at Paine Field in Everett, you can probably safely call yourself an aviation geek. And you can embrace your inner-nerd by attending the annual Aviation Geek Fest.

But beware, tickets for this year’s event taking place this weekend sold out in under three minutes, faster than Seahawks playoff tickets. Benjamin Granucci, an aviation blogger from New York, was ready. 

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Development
4:03 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Design Firm Offers Ideas To Make Downtown Seattle More Inviting, Visually Interesting

The landscape design firm Gustafson Guthrie Nichol has come up with ideas for improving downtown Seattle's cityscape
Gustafson Guthrie Nichol

Seattle's downtown looks "spectacularly disjointed." That's the assessment of landscape architect Shannon Nichol after walking every block in a 65-acre area around the city's Pike and Pine streets, from just east of Interstate 5 down to the waterfront. 

Nichol's design firm Gustafson Guthrie Nichol was hired by Downtown Seattle Association to come up with ways to spark a renaissance along the Pike/Pine corridor and make downtown more inviting and visually interesting. The group of downtown boosters wants to extend the vibrancy of Pike Place Market and the waterfront all the way up to Capitol Hill. 

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Minimum Wage
5:13 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Seattle Port Commission Pushes Back Against Pressure To Adopt SeaTac Living Wage Law

In this Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013 photo, wheelchair attendants Erick Conley, left, and Sesilia Vaitele assist a pair of passengers heading to an overseas flight at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, in SeaTac, Wash.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Port of Seattle commissioners are pushing back against pressure from other elected officials to adopt the SeaTac living wage ordinance at Sea-Tac Airport.

A total of 57 state lawmakers, King County officials and SeaTac city officials have urged the commission to drop its opposition to the SeaTac minimum wage ordinance. Last November, SeaTac voters approved Proposition 1 to lift wages for some workers in and around the airport to $15 per hour. 

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Helping Hand
5:00 am
Fri February 7, 2014

Catholic Seafarers' Center Provides A Lifeline To Sailors During Their Hours In Seattle

Father Tony Haycock of the Catholic Seafarers' Center demonstrates the kind of engine order telegraph found on ships.
Justin Steyer KPLU

These days, Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood is dominated by wine bars and night clubs. But on one block of First Avenue, there’s a living reminder of the city’s dependence on the waterfront. Outside a two-story corner building, a few doors down from a Starbucks, is a vertical sign that reads "Catholic Seamen’s Club."  

These days, the place is known as the Catholic Seafarers’ Center and it’s run by the Archdiocese of Seattle. But for decades, the center has provided a lifeline to sailors, whether they’re here for just a few hours or months.

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Minimum Wage
5:12 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Alaska Air CEO: SeaTac Ordinance The Wrong Way To Tackle Income Inequality

FILE - Brad Tilden, center, CEO of Alaska Airlines, is flanked by two pilots on Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

Seattle-based Alaska Air Group, which has fought a local living-wage ordinance, concedes that low-wage workers may need a raise, but the company's CEO doesn't think SeaTac's initiative is the answer.

About 4,700 workers at Sea-Tac International Airport were hoping to get a bump to $15 an hour at the beginning of this year. But a judge has blocked that voter-passed ordinance from taking effect at the airport.

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Business
2:26 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Longtime Microsoft Executive Satya Nadella Likely To Become Software Giant’s Next CEO

Multiple news reports say Microsoft is likely to choose company veteran Satya Nadella its next CEO, ending a very public search that’s taken almost half a year. 

A Microsoft spokeswoman declined to confirm the reports, but if Nadella does take the reins from Steve Ballmer, he’ll become only the third CEO in the company’s 39-year history.

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Refinery Explosion
2:34 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Feds Find Culture Of 'Complacency' At Tesoro Before Deadly Refinery Fire

This screen capture from CSB's animation shows the location of the explosion.
Chemical Safety Board

A culture of complacency at Tesoro’s Anacortes refinery led to the deadly fireball that claimed the lives of seven workers in 2010, according to federal investigators who've spent almost four years examining the causes.

The equipment that exploded in the early hours of April 2, 2010 had developed leaks that the company knew about. The carbon steel tubing of the equipment had been weakened over time by hydrogen and that had caused cracks. 

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Boeing Machinists
1:47 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Boeing CEO Says It’s Time To Rebuild Relationship With Machinists

File image
AP Photo

(Corrects to clarify that the agreement the machinists passed phases out the pension over time  and replaces it with a company-funded 401(k) retirement plan.)

Boeing's Chief Executive Jim McNerney says he’s looking forward to the prospect of no strikes for the next decade by Washington state machinists. McNerney told Wall Street analysts it made the most sense to build the next version of the 777 jet in the Puget Sound region, as long as the workers accepted the company’s contract extension offer.

Machinists narrowly approved the deal that preserves job security but phases out their pension and replaces it with a 401(k) retirement plan. McNerney says his deputy, Ray Conner, is now trying to improve morale in the wake of the vote.

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Business
5:00 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Bill Would Make Washington The First State To Mandate Paid Vacation Days

Credit Camping on West Maui. / Felix Ruess

About one out of four American workers gets no paid vacation time, and the U.S. is the only industrialized country that doesn’t guarantee that workers receive some. Now lawmakers in Olympia are considering a bill that would make Washington the first state in the country to mandate that employers provide paid vacation days.

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