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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Boeing Decision
10:36 pm
Sun December 15, 2013

Boeing Machinists Say They'll Ask NLRB To Help Force A Vote

Boeing's 777 assembly line in Everett
Ashley Gross KPLU

Some Boeing machinists angry at their union leaders plan to ask for help from the National Labor Relations Board.

They’re upset that local leaders from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers turned down Boeing’s best and final offer without putting it to members for a vote. The offer would have secured assembly of the next 777 jet in Washington state along with the carbon-fiber wing fabrication. 

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Boeing Decision
10:35 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Schism In Machinists' Union Leaves Boeing Offer Up In The Air

Boeing machinists in Washington state are trying to figure out whether they'll have a chance to vote on an offer the company made Thursday that would guarantee production of the 777X wide-body jet in the Puget Sound region. 

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Business
1:31 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Boeing to Reduce Research and Tech Jobs in Wash. State by as Many as 1,200

File image
Reed Saxon Associated Press

Boeing says its research and technology workforce in Washington state will probably shrink by as many as 1,200 jobs as the company shifts work to other states including Alabama, Missouri and South Carolina.

The news comes on a day when many people in Washington are waiting to hear whether Boeing will accept a preliminary contract proposal from the machinists’ union. The union is seeking to reach an agreement with the company that would guarantee production of the next 777 jet in the Puget Sound region, securing thousands of jobs.

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budget negotiations
8:26 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Murray: Budget Deal Better than Sequestration for Wash. State

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., left, and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash.
J. Scott Applewhite Associated Press

Sen. Patty Murray says the deal she reached with Republican Rep. Paul Ryan will spare Washington state residents from another round of across-the-board budget cuts—welcome news to researchers at the University of Washington.

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Boeing Decision
12:37 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Union Leaders: Machinists Make Labor Proposal to Boeing

Boeing's 777 assembly line in Everett
Ashley Gross KPLU

The machinists’ union has presented a labor proposal to the Boeing Company, local union leaders said late Wednesday afternoon. 

The details of the proposal have not been released. The union made the announcement after an hours-long meeting with Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Ray Conner and other company executives Wednesday, raising hopes that the two sides may strike an agreement to build the next 777 wide-body jet in the Puget Sound region.

“We tried to craft a proposal that would meet the needs of our members, while also ensuring the long-term success of the Boeing Co. in Washington state,” said Tom Wroblewski, the president of Machinists Union District Lodge 751, in a statement. The union said it expects a response from Boeing by Thursday.

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Boeing Decision
12:12 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Wash. Congressional Delegation to Boeing: Build 777X Here

Boeing's 777 assembly line in Everett
Ashley Gross KPLU

As time runs out for Washington state to make its case to Boeing that it should build its next 777 wide-body jet here, the state’s Congressional delegation is weighing in with a letter to the company’s top executives.

The lawmakers touted their support and advocacy for important issues to Boeing and their pro-aerospace voting record.

“We are the aerospace industry’s strongest allies and loudest advocates in Congress,” the letter said.

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Minimum Wage
10:44 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Workers March from SeaTac to Seattle to Push for $15 Min. Wage

Ashley Gross KPLU

Dozens of fast-food workers and activists took to the streets Thursday for a day-long march in support of $15 minimum wage.

The march began in SeaTac, where voters approved a $15 minimum wage this year, and headed for Seattle City Hall as a symbolic push for Seattle to follow SeaTac’s suit and adopt the higher wage.

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man vs. machine
5:01 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Robot Baristas? Here's Starbucks CEO Schultz's Take

Allison Moore

The coffee world has been abuzz lately with news of barista robots—machines that can custom-make a cappuccino or chai latte. Naturally, the question becomes whether the world’s largest coffee chain, Seattle-based Starbucks, would replace humans with automation. 

In a world where robots build cars, fulfill orders in Amazon warehouses and paint the wings on Boeing’s 777 jet, making a latte by machine isn’t that much of a leap.

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workers' rights
5:00 am
Fri November 29, 2013

Federal Way Worker Says He Was Illegally Fired by Walmart

Gerardo Paladan (center) protests outside Walmart headquarters in Arkansas
Abbie Blumberg Our Walmart

Protesters are descending on some 1,500 Walmart locations, including the store at Bellevue’s Factoria Mall, on this Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Joining them is a man who has been battling Walmart in Federal Way for several years over safety concerns. And now Gerardo Paladan says he was illegally terminated.

The Bellevue protest is just the latest stop for Paladan. Earlier this week, he made his seventh trip to Bentonville, Arkansas to protest at Walmart headquarters.  

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boeing decision
4:13 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Local Machinist Leader Says There's No New Offer from Boeing

Boeing's 777 assembly line in Everett, Wash.
Ashley Gross KPLU

Contrary to rumors that have been circulating among Boeing machinists in Washington state, there's been no new contract offer from the company, according to Tom Wroblewski, president of Local 751 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. 

Wroblewski, in a post published on the local's website, wrote he's had routine meetings with his counterparts at the company, but hasn't been involved in any talks that would lead to a new offer. He said he has also met with Gov. Jay Inslee and other elected officials. 

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living wage initative
12:34 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

SeaTac Voters OK $15 Minimum Wage, Opponents Request Recount

In this Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013 photo, skycap Biniyam Yehuala hefts a traveler's bag at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac, Wash.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Voters in the city of SeaTac have approved a $15 minimum wage, but opponents have already requested a recount. 

Proposition 1 passed by a slim margin of 77 votes out of 6,003 votes cast. But even before the ballots were certified Tuesday, the group Common Sense SeaTac called for a recount in the hotly-contested initiative. The group is supported by Alaska Airlines, rental car companies and airport baggage-handling businesses.

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living wage initiative
9:20 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Federal Judge Sends SeaTac Min. Wage Case Back to State Court

File image
Associated Press

A federal judge has granted the request from Alaska Airlines, the Washington Restaurant Association and a small business owner at Sea-Tac International Airport to send their case back to a Washington state court. The businesses want SeaTac's Proposition 1, which would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for some workers, to be ruled illegal. 

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living wage initiative
5:29 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Legal Challenge Could Stymie SeaTac Minimum Wage Hike

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 Associated Press

Workers at Sea-Tac International Airport are still not sure whether they’ll get a wage bump to $15 per hour come January. With SeaTac’s Proposition 1 still passing by a narrow margin, Alaska Airlines and other business interests are challenging the measure in court.

Alaska Airlines, the Washington Restaurant Association and a small business owner at the airport have been trying since July to block the minimum wage initiative in court. They’ve tried to keep the measure off the ballot and failed.

Now the issue is which court should hear the case. The business interests would like a King County judge to rule the initiative unconstitutional. But sponsors of the initiative, who are backed by unions like the Service Employees International Union, said the case should be heard in federal court.

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boeing decision
7:42 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Labor Groups Rally to Support Machinists' Crucial Boeing Vote

Supporters of Boeing machinists gathered at Westlake Park in Seattle on Monday, Nov. 18, 2013.
Ashley Gross KPLU

Ever since Boeing machinists voted last week to reject the company’s contract extension offer, people in the Puget Sound region have been trying to imagine a future without the aerospace giant here. But against the backdrop of those fears, labor supporters rallied Monday to show they think the machinists did the right thing.

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machinists vote
10:25 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Boeing: 'No Plans to Re-Engage' Machinists until Contract Expires

Boeing's 777 assembly line in Everett
Ashley Gross KPLU

Boeing shot down hopes that a sweetened offer might clinch a deal with its 31,000 machinists in the Seattle area to build its next 777 wide-body jet in Washington state. 

"The contract expires in September 2016. There are no plans to re-engage with the union regarding contract negotiations until prior to contract expiration," Boeing said in a question-and-answer section on its website regarding the contract extension offer it unveiled last week. 

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