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Employee Compensation Issue

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by lauralisa, Jul 22, 2002.

  1. lauralisa

    lauralisa Grumbler

    I'm a frequent lurker and infrequent poster to this great place, and hope that the following is not in bad form:

    Three years ago I spent a year managing the Framing Department of one of those national chain stores that are STILL rising like so many mushrooms on every other street corner of the USA. It was a learning experience, but overall, I look back on those days with dismay, astonishment and ..... well. Let me just say I wouldn't let my worst enemy get anything of value framed at such a place.

    When I left for a better job at a real frame shop, I had a years' vacation leave accrued. The employee handbook clearly stated the policy to reimburse, at the employee's current rate of pay, any unused accrued vacation leave. I requested this in writing after my two-weeks' notice was up.

    I never received a check. I wrote to the office of Human Resources in Texas, and never received a reply. (All correspondence was of course certified mail, receipts on file....) I guess I let it go, wanting to get on with my life.

    Then, several months ago, I did an "audit" of my paycheck stubs, and found multitudinous errors - and it turns out they owe me about $1,800.00....... I contacted someone in the office where I worked, provided all information/copies/etc they requested, and NOTHING. Finally, I wrote a concise letter stating my need to get some resolution of this matter, and if it was not received by a certain date, I would consult an attorney.

    So, since I've heard zip from them, I've done just that. The attorney, who is trusted, fair, NOT a litigious freak, etc. has strenuously urged me to file a MAJOR lawsuit (she referred me to a specialist in employment law) which could even turn into a class-action suit. (There are clear, proveable grounds for gender discrimination, among other things.)

    I don't want to "take on" retail corruption; I just want what is legally owed to me. But, I feel like I've exhausted any 'professional', reasonable approaches to getting this situation resolved, and they obviously do not think it's worth even replying to me.

    Does anyone have any experience along these lines? Advice? Criticism? Encouragement? Opinions? What should I do?

    Thank you for reading this too-long post. Any responses would be deeply appreciated.

    lauralisa
     
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  2. jkol

    jkol Grumbler

    lauralisa,
    It's unfortunate that you waited so long to pursue this. Better late than never I hope. You took one giant step in the right direction by lawyering up. Although I am not a huge fan of lawyers they do serve a purpose. The first attorney is right on the mark (you need a labor lawyer!)
    I know you just want what is rightfully yours but, it make take a threat of a class action suit just to get the bad guys talking to you. Unfortunately that is what has become of our society.
    I am sorry I don't have any concrete advice for you. I just want you to know I sincerely hope you get what you deserve and they really get what they deserve. Good luck and keep us posted.

    sincerely,

    jkol
     
  3. Emibub

    Emibub PFG, Picture Framing God

    I would do what my legal counsel advises. It has to stop somewhere. Even if you don't want to take on the whole system it would be quite a wake up call. Would your attorney take it on on a contingency basis? If so, I highly doubt they would want to take it on unless they felt they had a strong case.

    I think corporate America has us in a chokehold. They get more and more and we, the employee and consumer, get less and less. Look at our stockmarket situation. These corporations are making their own rules and books. Look at our government being controlled by those corporations. Corporate campaign contributions are nothing more than legalized bribery. We are letting these greedy people erode our way of life, and take away all our choices.

    Wow, that was quite a tangent, I haven't had anybody to talk to all day. Being self employed doesn't allow for much verbal sparring
     
  4. unframed_mystery

    unframed_mystery CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Well you don't have to be a rocket scientist or even Dr Fraud to figure out that the company you worked for was probably Michaels. I'm not too surprised that you had payroll issues; their payroll department at head office has a reputation for error (although I can't say I've had a problem with them). I'm sure you will be glad to get the help you need to correct the issue.

    What I fail to understand is, what relevance does your problem have to framing, and how is it relevant to this forum on the Grumble? Did you post this topic merely to discredit a company that you have personal issues with? I wonder what the reason behind your leaving your job there for a 'real job at a real frame shop' was? Perhaps you were invited to leave by the management and are now looking for a grudge-match?

    Another question that springs to mind is, if you found the framing there so dismaying and unethical, why did you stay working there for a whole year? As the department manager, you had the power to implement proper training and improve the quality of work done in that shop. If the other framers were untrained and you were responsible for their leadership, then that is your fault!

    I wish you success in receiving any money that is due to you and being able to move forward in your career. But I personally do not believe that this forum is a place for mud-slinging. Remember, just because you were part of a mis-run frameshop in one location, does not automatically make all the framers in a large company worthless.

    This type of generalization is exactly what hurts all framing business no matter how large or small the organization. We should strive to work together to improve public image of our business, and spend less time picking petty arguements. I think that any post that pits us against each other is counter productive to what we all want...

    You asked for my opinion... you got it ;)
     
  5. jframe

    jframe <span style="color: red"><b><i>Charter Member</i><

    Lauralisa,

    Unless unframed mystery knows something factual about you that others don't, then you have come to the right place to ask opinions. On the other hand, you also have to be prepared to hear things you don't want to hear. ;) It is an open forum on the www. Michaels isn't the first store that came to my mind by any means. There are plenty of others that do the kind of things you describe to employees...in fact, I've never even heard that kind of thing about Michaels.

    I agree with Kathy's post. You don't need advice from us, you have lawyers for that. Let them go after the pay you earned, it is an insult to your dignity to be treated that way. What you need from us is cheerleading! Think of all the other people who used to work there who have unknowingly been cheated out of compensation.

    Good luck, keep us posted.
     
  6. CharlesL

    CharlesL PFG, Picture Framing God

    Lauralisa,
    I have no advice, other than to follow your attorney's advice. I do, however, offer encouragement. If the b@st@rds owe you, make 'em pay!!

    Best of luck!!

    Carrie, PLEASE don't take offense. I'm not referring to every Michaels employee, just the one(s) who bilked Lauralisa out of her money.
     
  7. Lance E

    Lance E Member

    unframed, I thought that there was very little mudslinging done by anyone other than yourself. Lauralisa's post certainly doesn't appear to me to say that all employees in a large company are worthless, I have no idea where or why your rant became so impolite but it really is a tad overboard. I was also unaware that Micheals was the only national chain of frame stores, it was my impression that there were many???
    Assumption is the mother of all mistakes...

    Asking advise is what this forum is for, be it business, technical or employment issues.

    I would urge lauralisa to take whatever steps necessary to re-coup moneys owed, however I am not a fan of someone walking away with mega-dollars that they really have not worked for. Hopefully the realisation comes from the employer and problems are resolved so as no-one has to get to this point again in the future.
     
  8. unframed_mystery

    unframed_mystery CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I stand by my post. She wanted opinions, she's getting all of them. As mentioned, this is an open forum. If Lauralisa's former employer was not Michaels, then I will happily apologize for that assumption! But her description of the situation leads me to believe it was.

    As for her not letting her 'worst enemy get things framed' at her previous place of employment (of which she admittedly was the manager ), I think she needs to look at her own performance there!

    No, Charles, I don't 'take offense' at any opinions in the Grumble; I don't take them personally. And no, Dr Fraud, I don't have framing inferiority issues ;) . I only questioned the link of her problem to actual framing. As I said, I wish her all the best in recouping her missing paycheques... but I don't feel any sympathy in her critique of her previous employer's frameshop, regardless of who they were!

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  9. lauralisa

    lauralisa Grumbler

    Wow. Thanks, all of you who've posted replies, (especially the ones who've e-mailed me personally because they fear the predictable, wonk-like, out of perspective rant responses).

    I would LOVE to avoid a long, drawn-out, expensive and stressful legal engagement with a national corporation, for obvious reasons. I don't want to abuse ANY system. I want to see legal, appropriate and fundamental employment procedures and policies followed, (such that is stated in "their" employee manual!) and not disregarded, simply because "they" can get away with it.

    Picture framing is a retail business. I work in this business because I adore it; I could make three times as much money doing some office job (I tried that btw) -but framing gets in your blood. I've been a framer for about twenty years now. It is a MASTER craft. It takes skill, dedication, years of experience, and, most of all, PROFESSIONALISM (!) to provide customers with such highly- specialized services that promote dignity, respect and value. I take pride in knowing that the services I provide will hold up under the highest scrutiny in my chosen profession.

    I was extremely successful during my tenure at the (unnamed) retail chain store. My particular department demonstrated outstanding increases in sales; in the course of one year, MY store increased sales by as much as 5500% over the previous year - and under conditions where there were competing stores a few miles away. The store manager where I worked would "hide" the daily sales reports for the district (I'd find them in the trash can - pulled them out for my records) so he could fudge the numbers for the other departments. The actual numbers were nothing less than absolutely astounding for a new store in a "low income" area, and we frequently beat all other stores in our district by thousands of percentage points.

    Uh, NO, I was NOT asked to "leave." In fact, I secured two (male) full time employees to take over my position and trained them before I even gave my notice. I had enough loyalty to the current client base (that I'd helped establish!) at that store to endure until a timely exit was possible.

    Predicating factors were: I could not tolerate the egregious misrepresentation of the services provided - the distorted and technically illegal advertising tactics - the inconsistencies in compensation due SOLELY to gender - and, I simply could not bear the fact that MY small staff of dedicated framers, working their butts off to meet the next day's impossible deadlines, were browbeaten by other department managers to stop what they were doing before they were finished so they could help clean up floral detritus and straighten up spools of ribbon and candle displays. When I pointed out that the framing department (CUSTOM FRAMING, that is, not the cheesy ready-made **** that I was embarrassed to be in the same area with) had a profit margin of 67% and brought in 57% of the stores revenues after payroll (9%) and that we WERE NOT FINISHED WITH THE NEXT DAY'S WORK, and our time was better spent doing THAT than cleaning up **** on the floor, I was regarded as some kind of FREAK.

    I can report corruption and tactics that would elicit disgust from the most hardened Enron offical, but this is not an appropriate forum for such a discussion.

    As a framer, I have come to regard the other framing professionals here as reliable sources of information, feedback, windows into trends of my craft, and wished only to see if anyone else had experienced a successful resolution of a problem similar to mine. Believe me, IF and when I chose to become VOCAL about the incomprehensibly pathetic conditions for both framers AND items framed by these types of bottom-feeder stores, it will not be "mud-slinging."

    Again.... thanks to all who had the presence of mind to relate to my personal dilemma in a humane way. I'm sad to realize that it seems my only recourse here is to go legal.... when I'm only asking for is basic "employment law 101."

    Now I will go get myself a tall one.
     
  10. unframed_mystery

    unframed_mystery CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    told ya it was Michaels! ;)
     
  11. Emibub

    Emibub PFG, Picture Framing God

    Hey Lauralisa, You get my support all the way. I have been there and done that. Reading your last post I couldn't help but think it could have been written by me. It is hard to get others to understand the daily losing battle in that type of environment. You probably thrived on it just like me at one time. You give your heart and soul and assemble a great team of people and then have it disintegrate. It is like being on a hamster wheel. I took it very personally when I lost control of my shop. I used to take my framers on pilgrimages to other stores to help out. All it takes is a disinterested manager and bad greedy corporate decisions and everything you work so hard at is for nothing. It is really easy if you haven't been in that situation to not understand. One of the hardest things I have ever had to do is pull my self out from underneath the situation I was in. It took me a year to not feel like I had failed somehow.

    I have become ultra sensitive to a lot of the comments about Michael's employees so I can see where Carrie is coming from. I have made some ugly ugly comments about Michael's myself. I guess I feel if you have lived through it at least you have earned the right to bash. I can at least back up any statements I have made. I know just the size of their volume in most stores, and the lack of support makes it very difficult to run cohesively.

    Lauralisa, you do what is right for you. You don't have to take on the whole ugly machine to get what is yours. Since I have been in your situation I know without a doubt you have earned every penny they owe you. I promise you there is life after Michael's. :eek:
     
  12. CharlesL

    CharlesL PFG, Picture Framing God

    Well, this has become quite interesting.
    According to what I've gleaned from Carrie and Kathy's posts, Some, or most Michaels shops turn out good quality work. So do some small self-owned shops.

    However, SOME customers bring work in and want a mat changed because some aspect of their home decor has changed; all well and good. But, they also say they had it framed at Michaels, or JoeBlow's Frame Shop, and were assured by their framer that they were getting what they paid for: C/P work.
    Then, when we open the frame, we find masking tape, artwork ATG'd to mats, ad nauseum.

    I don't think that every self owned shop has a bunch of losers framing, neither do I think Michaels does. It is, however, quite obvious that SOME big shops are ripping customers off by charging C/P prices, and doing crappy, unheard-of work, as delineated above. Whose fault that is, I don't have a clue. But, wrong is wrong, and stealing from the customer is, well, stealing from the customers.
    Some Michaels have, I'm sure, CPF's GCF's and a lot of 'lettered' framers working there. But, the framer is only as good as the boss lets them be.
    I keep hearing about 'increasing the business by X%'. I worked for BellSouth for 30 years, and I believe they're a tad bigger than Michaels. THEY got hung up on the bottom line, and service was the FIRST thing to go. That's the main reason I retired. I had no conscience for that type of **** anymore. We had customers that paid from $500 to a MILLION DOLLARS A MONTH! No joke! Customers like IBM, MCI, SPRINT, VERIZON, ad infinitum. Our job was to cheerfully hope they'd go away, when they had a trouble, so our 'numbers' would look good for the stockholders.
    I have bought test items out of my own pocket because the Fone Co was 'going broke'! Yeah, right.
    So, you guys DO NOT take it as a personal affront when a G'er mentions a customer who came in with a Michaels, a Ben Franklins, or a Whoever piece they want reframed, and claim that the shop assured, AND charged them for C/P, and there's duct tape, cardboard, masking tape and Lord knows what inside the frame. It doesn't mean EVERY Michaels employee adheres to those practices, but some of them sure as h e l l do.

    And I don't know anything. I just know what's 'right' and 'fair' and how a paying customer gets ripped off when they don't get what they're promised. WHOEVER is responsible needs to go to work digging ditches. If a shop manager needs their job, and their boss forces them to rip-off customers, then he needs to be reported. TO THE CUSTOMER, in my opinion.

    OK. I've said my piece. Have at me...
     
  13. Audrey Levins

    Audrey Levins MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    The reason her description led you to that assumption was because you admitted that you have heard about payroll problems....so why are you getting so defensive? She described a large, uncaring, gender-discriminating corporate chain....and you immediately assumed it was Michaels. :eek:

    What does that say?
     
  14. The King

    The King SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Very good, Audrey. I was wondering the same thing.

    However, Big Box framers have gotten defensive on The Grumble before about attacks on their particular Big Box. Maybe Lauralisa would have gotten more sympathy from unframed_mystery if she had limited her question to the matter of her employer problems instead of editorializing about the quality of the framing.

    When I was in photography school, I dated a young woman who would tell me horror stories about the guy she dated before me. He had already graduated and moved on, so I was unable to personally confirm whether he was, in fact, the Anti-Christ. After I moved to Wisconsin and opened my shop, this VERY SAME GUY, walked into my store and introduced himself, unaware of the things I'd heard about him. He was living and working in Appleton, (it's a small world, after all,) he turned out to be a very nice guy and we went on to become friends.

    Ex-employees and ex-girlfriends/boyfriends/spouses should refrain from ranting about their previous situations.
     
  15. ArtLady

    ArtLady SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Not wanting to leave a stone unturned or a thread unfrankened, one of the draws of a chain store is the idea that you get the same, quality, hamburger, merchandise no matter where in the country you visit one of their stores. I guess the entire chain has not standardized their processes. Perhaps this industry could use their own ISO 9001. Or perhaps we have already started the process with CPF's and FACTS. Interesting.
     
  16. wpfay

    wpfay Angry Badger

    If all you really want from your former employer is what they owe you, and if you in fact have excellent documentation why not take this to the state department of labor. Your former employer will quickly set things right if that's what it takes to avoid an audit.
    Whatever your decision, I wish you the best of luck.
     
  17. Framing Goddess

    Framing Goddess SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    ll, I am seconding what Wally suggested... contact the Dept. of Labor. They're in the phone book.
    I once had to go through them to collect overtime pay owed me and I remember the whole process as being very painless. I got my back pay, too.
    There is nothing like a certified letter from the gov't and a visit from an "Agent" to get some former employers off their dead @sses!
    You seem to have everything documented, good for you!
    If that does not work, then I would go the legal route. The gender discrimination issue sounds well worth pursuing, as well. We know it happens, it sure would be nice to think that maybe our daughters (and nieces) wouldn't have to deal with it as much as we did. You sound principled and articulate- just the kind of person who could fight it and win in court. Persevere and you will prevail! Go for it. Keep us posted.

    Edie the fg
     
  18. mbshir

    mbshir CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    My daughter was having the same problem collecting vacation pay from a pet store where she worked (a national chain). She contacted Labor and Industry to file a complaint. In the State of Maryland, if an employer is found to be withholding wages unjustly, they are required to pay three times the amount owed. As soon as she notified management that she was filing a complaint, they had her check for her that day. I think sometimes the big boys hope you'll get frustrated, give up the fight and just go home quietly.
     
  19. Roxanne Langley

    Roxanne Langley CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    Contact your local Texas Workforce Commission office, they will direct you to the correct attorney. Be prepared to fight it could take a little longer than what you may think unless they try to settle it out of court. However, the TWC can help alot.

    Roxanne Langley
    Langley House Gallery
    Spring, TX
     
  20. wpfay

    wpfay Angry Badger

    There's a town in Texas called Minnesota? I had her accent all wrong. :rolleyes:
     
  21. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    lauralisa:

    Either forget it, or go into the battle determined to win at any cost. In either case, get your legal advice from a good lawyer. It's fun to speculate here, but we're all guessing.

    There are very few nice people in any major company's legal department. I guess you will probably not be able to sweet-talk, cajole, reason, or threaten them into paying you what they owe without litigation.

    You say they have your money. I guess you'd have to prove that, and you'd need professional legal help to get it from them, which can happen in two ways, I guess:

    1. Negotiate a fair out-of-court settlement, including all the fees. If your case is a slam-dunk, I guess the company should jump at the chance to settle.

    2. If your case is complicated or if you want them to grovel, prepare to go all the way with a suit for back pay, discrimination, fees, punitive damages -- the whole enchilada. I guess there's no assurance you will win.

    What does it matter whether the company is Michaels or any other major chain? In a situation like this, I guess any of them might behave the same way.

    Stop guessing and get the FACTS. (Sorry, Ron -- couldn't resist.)
     
  22. unframed_mystery

    unframed_mystery CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I agree with Wally; I think his suggestion is the most practical one of all. I think the department of labour is where this should be headed. Incidentally, the info about the payroll department wasnt what clued me in about it being Michaels, it was the location of their corporate office!

    One thing we need to keep in mind here that sort of surfaced in this thread was that just because a customer says they had something framed in a certain place, doesn't mean that it's true (unless of course there's a sticker on the back that indicates it was). I had a lady with a framed picture come in a couple weeks ago who claimed that she had had it framed in our shop a few years back... but I knew it hadn't; our sticker wasn't on it, and the way the frame was finished was not our method. She was trying to get it re-framed for free on the premise that we had done a poor job the first time. :rolleyes:

    Also, some customers will decline c/p framing due to the cost at the time of sale, against a framer's recommendations. Then later on down the road when they regret having cheaped out on it, they will tell the next framer that they actually did order it that way, that was what they paid for! But mysteriously it wasn't done... This also has happened in our shop a few times, fortunately we have good memories and keep a record of our recommendations and have customers sign off on their order when they decline conservation mounting.

    you just never know... :cool:
     
  23. keiki

    keiki CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    If a customer 'cheaps out'on their framing against your recommendations, you should get their signature as a rule. But what about writing on the backing or including a note inside the frame package that you were requested not to C/P frame it.

    Is this an acceptable practice or not?
    :rolleyes:
     
  24. Audrey Levins

    Audrey Levins MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    But Ron, what would happen to all the therapists? (Or come to think of it, Warped?)

    ;)
     
  25. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    That's often called a disclaimer. It might not help. In court a disclaimer is not worth much -- neither is a note inside the frame.

    Disclaimers and notes in frames demonstrate that the framer knew better than to use those methods and materials. So, when the customer testifies "...He/she never told me the picture would lose its value", the court is inclined to ask the framer why he/she knowingly did inferior work. Or, says the plaintiff's attorney, "Did you not know better, or were you just being careless, or did you think you'd never get caught? Hmmmm?"

    The framer-defendant usually has a problem at that point.

    Follow the FACTS guidelines, which outline the "generally accepted framing practices", not only for the framing itself, but also for documentation and client/framer communication. If you do that, you have nothing to fear, except bankruptcy before you win the case.
     
  26. Jin Wicked

    Jin Wicked CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Hey, I have worked at [big framing store chain] three times; twice at the same store, 4 years apart, and once at a store in Richfield (when I lived in Minneapolis!) I had the same problems described above, every time, except payroll probably. I do believe that gender discrimination and such is very common within the company. I had written a four-page letter of complaints about my boss in the TX store because he was harassing me (not sexually, just condescendingly) and he talks to women like they are idiots. And I totally understand that neglecting the next day's work thing -- one night he had me put out stock just because he new I hated it, while in between putting stuff on shelves I had to try to explain to people why their orders weren't done. Absolutely disgusting. Finally one day he sniveled and tried to belittle me for the last time, and I just walked out on them. I walked down the sidewalk and the place next door hired me pretty much on the spot. I work at a good place now, where I'm one of only two framers and I get a lot of respect.

    They also seem to keep their employees trained at the lowest level possible to squeak by... their mats come in pre-cut, frames pre-built... I worked there collectively three years, and only until my current job was I ever allowed to hand-cut mats. No wonder my store gets all the disgruntled people from a few doors down, willing to pay whatever it takes to get something done right the first time, and on time.

    Good luck... if I had had any sort of resources at all, and wasn't poor, I'd have loved to hire a lawyer to follow up on the sexist jerk I worked for before. :rolleyes:
     
  27. Marc Lizer

    Marc Lizer SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    lauralisa,

    I'd love to find out what the resolution was.

    Did you make it in as part of the Class Action Lawsuit by the Employees that Michaels just settled?
     
  28. AnneL

    AnneL SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Marc, do you have more imformation on that settlement? Is there a link you could post with that information?
     
  29. DebbieS.

    DebbieS. Grumbler in Training

    LauraLisa,
    I am sorry that your have had problems with that employer and I can understand your frustrations. I hope that you can get this resolved and get your money that you are due out of them, but please don't put every one of those chain stores in the category of the store that you worked in, because they are not all that way.

    Everybody,
    Since some of you are currently flaming chain stores, I would just like to put my two cents in.
    After reading Lauralisa's post, I too thought that it was Michaels, not because of the complaints that she spoke of, but because of the main office being in Texas. It sounds like a lot of the problem in the store she worked at was the manager. Problems with payroll and misfigured numbers happen with both corporate and mom and pop companies, it's a good habit to keep track of hours and pay when the paycheck comes in any case. That being said, I am a frame shop department manager at a Michaels store that has been open for about 1 1/2 years. I have a very good manager (female), that doesn't know a whole lot about framing, so when she sees us keeping up with production and getting the grade when the DM comes to visit, she supports us and lets us do our thing. The fact that a lot of our creativity and personalization has been taken away from us so that the majority of our mats are coming precut for "inventory" reasons, did really stir up some dust in our shop, but I wasn't going to let that get us down. We have a local supplier to get mats and special mouldings from if we need them. When I learned to frame, one of the most enjoyable parts of it was to create and make wonderful product and darnit, I will continue to create and make wonderful product. We do a lot of specialty cuts and freehand cuts for our customers that the company can't cut and I won't quit doing that for our customers. Just because I work for a chain store doesn't mean that I have to stray from the framing ethics that I have learned and I make sure that I pass them on to each and every person that I train, in fact, when we did our training when we opened, those ethics were reinstalled by a Michaels Framing Trainer. Our store is in a city of 70,000 people and we have a total of 16 frame shops so to keep our customers happy, we can't be just a plain square assembly line frame shop. It's also a good thing that everybody that works in my shop feels as intensly as I do about this. I firmly believe in giving the customer the best product for their money, the majority of the mounts that we do in our shop are c/p mounts, and we don't skimp on them. Framing is a constant learning experience, I am always reading these forums, subscribing to magazines, getting framing books, I am in the process of learning what I will need to become a CPF. I want to be the best framer that I can be and I want to raise our frame shop above company standards. Just because you work for a chain store doesn't mean that you learn their way and then quit learning if you are serious about the craft. The second most enjoyable part of my job is when the customer comes to pick up their artwork and they ooh and aah when you open it up, or better yet when they start jumping up and down or even crying because they love what you have created for them. Reading some of these posts just makes me want to say THANK YOU for letting me see that I DO work in a REAL frame shop with wonderful people throughout the store. I take pride in the fact that I work for my Michaels and I would send everybody, including my worst enemy, to our Michaels frame shop, because we take pride in what we do and do the best we can for our customers, becuase where would be without them.
    Debbie ;)
     
  30. Jack Cee

    Jack Cee MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    You are in need of a very good labor relations attorney. My experience is mainly with public abencies so my specific advise would not be good for you to follow with the exception of the attorney. Corporations are governed by a different body of law than are public agencies. You might call your the regulating body of attorneys in your State for a recommendation. I believe that you have been had and they are betting that you will not follow through and file a claim.

    Good Luck
    Jack Cee
     
  31. Marc Lizer

    Marc Lizer SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Sorry about that.

    It appears I looked before I lept.

    I found some press releases on some financial papers, and misunderstood them. It read as the case being nationwide.

    I did some digging since you asked and found the source of the problem (from Michaels/AAron Bros point of view).
    Here is the complaint
    And here is the reslution.

    However the payees are not to discuss amounts. A further "however" is that Michaels is a public corp. and as such some things need to be disclosed, like THIS and THIS

    On a related note: THIS and THIS may be of interest for the employed. While they California related, similar laws will be in your home stats, or Fedral law may apply.

    The one thing that strikes me is this suit is just AAron Bros. AAron Bros is only 1/6 of Michales holdings in reatil stores and it was a 4 cents a share hit(from a 5mil judgement) but the .04 loss does not include the 3.2 mil in litigation costs that were subtracted from earnings before the 5 mil loss. If a suit similar class action hits Michaels, it will make a bigger hit. Also if these practices are shown to be company wide and across state lines it will go federal an not state.

    Things have been stange for them lately.

    They moved to the NYSE from Nadsaq in Dec.
    They setlled this shut in Feb.
    In May the CFO and VP announced his intent to depart, and will do so in October 31st.
    In September the company Board voted to re-purchase 1.5 mil shares of stock(to prop up price or for stock opitons?).

    And more oddities: · Insider and those with over 5% stock in the company total to 6% of total stock. So of those insiders 395.0K shares or 9.2% of insider shares have been sold by the insiders. You can get a look at the pasdt 2 years of them HERE If you go and look virtually all the insiders are cashing out options the day they get them for a good coin and not holding. Of course with current with the current brouhaaa about acconting practices, the transactions are under the old system.

    The officer outright purchases with no coresponding sale are for token amounts, and you need to scroll all the way to the bottom just to find them.

    If you click an officer is will give a complete history of sales and purcheses. So for instance if click on the name of the outgoing CFO/ExecVP, since April he has sold about 150,000 shares
    Right now he is left owning a total of 97 shares.

    Let's see: what else is interesting.
     
  32. fttom

    fttom MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Just a note for those who are interested... M. is not the only big chain who frames with headquarters in TX. "Big Orange" has their headquarters there, as well, even though their framing is a contract operation.

    Susan ;)
     
  33. Emibub

    Emibub PFG, Picture Framing God

    I was approached by attorneys for that case twice when I worked at Michael's and twice in the six months I worked for AB. The one's at Michael's were obviously fact finding missions to find out how widespread the problem was. I was not on salary at Michael's so I didn't qualify. I was on salary at AB and I did respond and they had me fill out a general questionaire. I don't think I added anything to stir the pot on that one. Would of if I could of.

    Now on the other hand if they ever have a class action suit against AB that involved sex discrimination or age discrimination I have ammo and would gleefully use it. There is somebody in that fine organization that is like a pox on their company. He hates women and in particular older women.(I hate the term but age discrimination means you are over 40.) I made two official complaints. I know of at least two women who were forced to quit who also officially documented and complained.......two more who are still in the works who have also complained......and so on.......and so on......he is bringing in the numbers.......I guess as long as you make money it doesn't matter how you behave. How is that for stirring the pot?
     
  34. CharlesL

    CharlesL PFG, Picture Framing God

    Take 'em to the WALL! Get every gov't agency, politician, etc involved!

    I still think that a clever employee, male or female, can make a butt-head boss have a nervous break-down vewwy, vewwy kwicwy. The bosses on here don't like to hear this sorta thing, but it's true. The default is; people tend to treat you like you treat them. The bottom line is, a business is ONLY as good as its employees.

    So there!
     
  35. lauralisa

    lauralisa Grumbler

    Wow... surprised to see this thread revived...

    Mark, thank you emmensely for the information you provided and for your inquiry. The news is very timely. To answer your question, I have still not received a reply from anyone at their corporate office. I am currently in dialogue with a great attorney about pursuing a class action gender/age discrimination suit. (Kathy - I'll be in touch!)

    PLEASE NOTE HOWEVER !!!!!!!!!

    I do NOT wish to imply that Michael's, or any similar store, can not provide cutting-edge, awesome, professional framing for anyone. I've known many "M" framers who are up there with the best of the best. I did some of my most interesting projects while working there, and had opportunities that I'll always remember.

    It seems that Charles L. hit the nail right on the head at least for me; no matter how much talent one can bring in to a M's shop, or how much increased sales, or flawless internal audits (my shop once got a perfect score with the exception of this: (ARRGH) 1 (one, like, as in one, single, ONE, UNO) razor blade was resting on top of the styrofoam block, rather than stuck down into it)... no matter how devoted they are to keeping the shop running full speed ahead, taking extreme pride in their work, THERE ARE OTHER WORKING CONDITIONS THAT MAKES IT DIFFICULT FOR A COMMITTED, PROFESSIONAL FRAMER TO REMAIN THERE WITH THEIR DIGNITY AND/OR SANITY INTACT.

    Some store managers are absolute sweethearts. Some shops deliver the best quality workmanship available. If anyone reading this is a current Michael's employee who is happy with their working conditions, MORE POWER TO YA! I sincerely mean this.

    The issues lie at the corporate level.

    Mark, the stock/shares/resignment information does not surprise me. When I was employed, the number of pre-joined frames and pre-cut mats shipped to our shop that had to be recut or just tossed simply BLEW MY MIND.
     
  36. lauralisa

    lauralisa Grumbler

    Ack! don't know what I did, but I wasn't finished yet!

    Anyway. With inexperienced framers entering incorrect dimensions, allowing the customer to choose unsuitable moulding for the project size, and multitudinous other breakage issues, the error rate sometimes approached 80%. I am not exaggerating. These orders were generally more heavily discounted due to customer complaints for delayed orders, replaced for free, or you name it. Diplomas were cut by framers to "make them fit" into too-small frames, valuable prints were cut down by mistake, framers would sell (I had to fight with the manager on this one) whole sheets of matboard for 40% off with those coupons (= less than wholesale cost) and a million other little disasters.

    I wondered how long the goose could lay the golden eggs until it simply ran out...... from what I understand from friends still employed there, this serious quality-control situation is even worse than before due to the "frame magic" software. Oh well.

    I am not one to hold grudges; I am a freak pacifist, and abhor conflict. I wish that some corporate suit would have simply responded to my entirely legitimate payroll issues and let me go my merry way. The amount of corruption and abuse that takes place on such a huge scale, however, impells me to pursue this further.

    Like Charles said, a place of business is only as good as its employees, and I can only say that for me, working there was a strikingly dehumanizing experience. Some individual stores run like clockwork, and I'm happy for those lucky ones who can work in those conditions, but I fear they are few and far between.

    I'll post more information when it seems appropriate, and I wish to thank all of you kind people who lent support, advice, and encouragement to me. THANK YOU!!!

    Lauralisa
     
  37. fttom

    fttom MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Lauralisa, my Boss at my part-time job used to be the manager of the local M. frame shop, and she tells the same horror stories that you, and the rest of you Folks do. We are at another chain store's frame shop, and conditions there are much better, as least the framing part is. The GM of the store is a real B****, but, since she's not our boss, we don't really have to deal with her much. She really hates the fact that she can't get rid of us. But back to my main point. Things at the local M. frame have gotten worse since my Boss left there. We both know people who still work there, and neither of would go back there(I used to teach classes there.) on a bet. Way too much stress. As for getting a quality framing job at a chain store, we always give the customer that at ours. Collectively, we have almost 50 years experience in that shop right now, and we all know what we're doing. We turn out a better product than the M. shop, simply because we have much more knowledge. I'm the one who does all of the reading, attending classes, and seminars, but you'd better believe that I take all of that knowledge right back to the shop and share with everyone else. I've just got the schedule that allows me to do this much better than any of the others. We, too, have to live with precut mats, and premade frames, but it doesn't limit us or keep us from doing c/p framing. My only complaint is that I think that our stuff is over priced, but I don't know what Corp.'s profit margin has to be, so what do I know?

    Susan
     
  38. Emibub

    Emibub PFG, Picture Framing God

    Lauralisa, Just for the record the reason I never pursued any action is because I ended up leaving AB when I bought my shop. I made two formal complaints in writing and verbally with the HR dept. They appeared to be responding to my problems and asked for documentation which I was able to provide. Of the two others who quit due to this individual one of them was not quite forty so she didn't qualify for the age discrimination issue. She did however qualify for the sex discrimination. I am pretty sure the other one at least reported her problem to the labor board. Both of them also complained and were interviewed by HR. I know of at least two others who felt discriminated against by the same person and they also have filed written and verbal complaints.

    What just totally riles me up is the fact that he is still there and obviously still able to do as he pleases. I have connections, I know people who are still there and he is still rampant and unchecked and exhibiting the same behaviour. I know one of those people is currently seeking other employment. I have no doubt that there are plenty of others who have not spoken up or simply went away.

    It simply stuns me that a huge corporation would let somebody run rampant and set their company up for a huge lawsuit. If I had not bought my store I was planning on seeking other employment but I would have not left quietly. I thought it was me he disliked until I went to work in a couple of other stores and discovered others were bothered like me. When the first manager quit she confided in me and I encouraged her to speak up before she left so the stage could be set. The second one was very vocal so she set her own stage on her own. One other manager stepped up and did her part when she started hearing all of the other stories. I am willing to bet that this market has had a mighty high management turnover.(of women)

    I fight to the death if I feel somebody is being wronged. It frustrates me that more people don't speak up. Why do I have to be the only one with the mouth? I don't care how little you value your job or how insignificant you feel. You accept a job and the headaches that go with it and in return you should be treated fairly at all times. Especially with a big corporation backing you. He most likely is in a couple of "protected classes" himself. Maybe they can't decide which poses more of a threat to them. So much for doing the right thing.
     
  39. Marc Lizer

    Marc Lizer SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Just wanted to bring this guy to the top.
     
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