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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Business
4:02 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Professor Proposes Eminent Domain for Underwater Mortgages

Don Ryan, File AP Photos

A Cornell University law professor recommends that Seattle consider using its power of eminent domain to stem the foreclosure crisis. But that idea is controversial, and a California city that said it planned to try using eminent domain for that purpose is now being challenged in court. 

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Business
2:04 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

Court Rejects Longshoremen's Challenge to Seattle Arena Plan

sonicsarena.com

A state appeals court ruled against the longshoremen’s union in its attempt to block a new NBA arena in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood. 

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Business
5:00 am
Mon September 9, 2013

Darigold, Workers in Mediation as Contract Negotiations Heat Up

Washington state’s biggest private company is heading to mediation today with workers in Seattle, Issaquah and Tukwila. The negotiations between Darigold and its workers have gotten tense, and some staged an informational picket last week. 

Darigold’s butter and other dairy products are familiar to many shoppers in this area. It is a cooperative of more than 500 dairy farmers in the Pacific Northwest. In fiscal 2012, Darigold took in almost $2.5 billion in revenue.

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living wage initiative
4:44 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

SeaTac Minimum Wage Initiative to Appear on November Ballot

Elaine Thompson Associated Press

After a legal tug-of-war, supporters of a $15 per hour minimum wage for some workers in SeaTac have gotten their initiative on the November ballot.

Alaska Airlines, the Washington Restaurant Association and an airport restaurant owner had challenged the validity of some of the petition signatures, but a panel of appeals judges ruled that those signatures should be counted and the measure will head to the voters.

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Business
4:14 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

Seattle Housing Authority Begins Long-Awaited Yesler Project

Ashley Gross KPLU

The long-awaited redevelopment of Seattle’s oldest public housing complex is finally underway. 

The Seattle Housing Authority had hoped to break ground on Yesler Terrace months ago, but tighter scrutiny by funders in this post-recession world delayed the project, says Seattle Housing Authority's Director of Development Stephanie Van Dyke. 

The city, the federal government, and J.P. Morgan Chase are funding the project. 

"Everyone really is doing, I would say, extra, extra due diligence on financing," Van Dyke said. 

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Microsoft
4:27 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Developers: Microsoft Should Sell Windows Phones to Businesses

Lehtikuva, Mikko Stig AP Photo

Microsoft’s plan to buy Nokia’s cellphone business shows the company is serious about competing in the smartphone world. But developers of smartphone apps say Microsoft should focus on getting businesses to buy Windows Phones for their employees.

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minimum wage protest
12:21 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Fast Food Workers Protest for Higher Minimum Wage

Cristina Rodriguez works at a Subway locationl in downtown Seattle. She skipped work to participate in the protest, even though she says her boss threatened to fire her if she skipped work.
Ashley Gross

Fast food workers in Seattle and Tacoma demanding higher pay walked off the job Thursday as part of a nationwide strike. Experts say it’s a rare show of labor strength at a time when unions have lost influence.

Workers and community supporters stood outside a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop in downtown Seattle, chanting, “Get up! Strike!” One Metro bus driver raised his fist to show his support as he drove by.

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Business
4:04 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Seattle-Area Grocery Workers Stage Informational Pickets

Grocery store workers in the Puget Sound region are stepping up pressure on their employers as they try to reach a contract deal. They’re staging informational pickets everywhere from Bremerton to Seattle, to Lynnwood this afternoon to get their message out to customers. 

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Watershed
5:00 am
Wed August 28, 2013

While Dr. King Dreamed, Seattleites Marched for Housing

A June 1963 march in Seattle against racial discrimination
seattlepi.com

Fifty years ago today, a quarter-million people gathered in Washington, D.C., to hear Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. But the summer of 1963 marked a critical point in Seattle history as well, as young activists staged the city’s first sit-ins of the civil rights movement.

The issue that galvanized them was housing discrimination. And in a place that likes to think of itself as progressive, segregation was rampant. 

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guns & businesses
12:38 pm
Fri August 23, 2013

Advocates of Tougher Gun Laws Call for Starbucks Boycott

Advocates of stricter gun laws are targeting Starbucks over its policy to allow customers to openly carry firearms, where it's legal.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America

A group urging more restrictive gun laws is calling for a national boycott of Starbucks Saturday. The group is upset over Starbucks’ policy of letting customers bring firearms into stores in states that allow it. 

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Microsoft
8:03 am
Fri August 23, 2013

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to Resign within 12 Months

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who succeeded founder Bill Gates as CEO, will retire within the next 12 months. The world's biggest software company did not name a successor, but one long-time Microsoft watcher says he expects the company to hire its next chief from within.

Microsoft Corp.'s stock rose more than 7 percent after the news. 

Just last month, Ballmer reorganized the company to emphasize hardware devices and services, rather than just software.

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Business
5:21 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Ports of Seattle and Tacoma Invest for Growth—But Will it Come?

FILE - The heavy lift ship Zhenhua 23 delivers three 267-foot tall cranes to a Port of Seattle terminal Wednesday, July 25, 2012.
Chris Grygiel Associated Press

Container volume is down more than 8 percent at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma in July, most likely a reflection of the weak economy. But the ports also face longer-term challenges.

Competition from Canadian ports is fierce. Then there’s the widening of the Panama Canal, set to be done in 2015, which some people say could divert ships away from the Pacific Northwest. And then there’s the Chinese economy to think about.

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Business
5:07 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Analyst Says Amazon Prices No Longer the Cheapest

AP Photo

Seattle’s online retail giant Amazon has built its reputation on low prices. But now an analyst says Amazon is no longer the thriftiest retailer out there. 

Amazon offers more stuff than most big-box retailers, but if you want a food processor or a knife set, Bed Bath & Beyond is now cheaper, according to a new report by Anthony Chukumba, an analyst with BB&T Capital Markets.

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Business
5:05 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Labor Dispute Halts Some Work on Seattle's Tunnel Project

Longshoremen picket at the site of Seattle's deep-bore tunnel project
Ashley Gross KPLU

Seattle's waterfront tunnel project is huge. At its height, it's supposed to create almost 3,900 jobs. In a move that shows how important each one of those jobs is, longshoremen headed out to a picket line to protect four of them. 

And that labor dispute over those four jobs has caused some work on the project to grind to a halt. 

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Watershed
5:00 am
Fri August 16, 2013

Fifty Years after 1963 March in D.C., One Woman Remembers

AP Photo

Later this month marks the 50th anniversary of a watershed in American civil rights history. That’s when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and gave his “I have a dream” speech.

Tomorrow, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists is organizing a march in Seattle to commemorate the 1963 March on Washington. For one woman who grew up in Seattle, the memory is still fresh. 

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