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A factory-sealed, first-edition 8GB iPhone sold at auction for $39k+. Its original price was $599 in 2007 — or $852 today, adjusted for inflation.

In today’s email:

  • TRAPs: How employers “trap” people with training fees.
  • Chart: The decline of wafer-making nuns.
  • March Madness: Could be getting more games.
  • Around the Web: Screaming for health, the perfect outro, famous art but spooky, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s 10-minute podcast to hear Zack and Juliet discuss scrutiny over employers charging workers for training fees, Netflix’s news, McDonald’s partnerships, and more.

The big idea
charges due

Zachary Crockett

Some workers say their job billed them for… quitting?

It’s called Training Repayment Agreement Provisions (TRAPs), a practice that’s under scrutiny from federal and state agencies, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), per Reuters.

TRAPs…

… require workers to reimburse their employer for training if they leave their job — or, in some cases, are laid off — before a set time.

The practice dates back to the ‘80s, but only applied to a few high-income professions, such as pilots or engineers, per Market Watch.

It’s since spread to other sectors, affecting ~10% of US workers, per a 2020 Cornell Survey Research Institute survey.

  • A Washington state salon tried to sue an esthetician for $1.9k in training fees.
  • An Ohio roofing company required salespeople to repay $42k if they left before three years.
  • A California plaintiff filed a lawsuit against PetSmart on behalf of groomers, who were expected to repay $5k+.

The problem with TRAPs

TRAPs may be beneficial to companies who invest in employees, especially amid a labor shortage. Some certifications, like a commercial driver’s license, can be valuable.

But the Consumer Federation of America calls TRAPs a “form of shadow student debt” that literally traps workers in jobs, even if wages are low and conditions are poor.

The CFPB is also concerned that TRAPs may prevent employees who’ve already undergone schooling, like nurses, from finding better jobs.

What’s next?

Legislators and officials are considering moves to limit TRAPs.

California has already banned TRAPs for health care workers, while Colorado has prohibited them for standard job training.

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TRENDING
eyeball wearing a hat

Wow: Rolls-Royce revealed the Spectre, a ~$400k EV that will hit the streets in late 2023, and said it already has hundreds of pre-orders.

SNIPPETS

Netflix gained 2.4m subscribers in Q3, for a total of 223m+. It expects to gain 4.5m in Q4 as it rolls out its ad-supported tier, but will stop offering subscriber forecasts in 2023.

Speaking of Netflix: It’s also testing a Profile Transfer feature that lets users move their history and settings to a new account.

Ikea partnered with Kodiak Robotics, whose self-driving trucks will make daily deliveries from a Houston warehouse to a Dallas store.

Krispy Kreme shares received a 4.8% bump Tuesday after McDonald’s announced it would test selling its donuts at a handful of Louisville stores.

Meta agreed to sell Giphy over UK regulators’ concerns that it could limit competition by restricting access to the site’s GIF library.

Oof: NY Attorney General Letitia James served Donald Trump with a $250m fraud lawsuit, accusing the Trump Organization of exaggerating its company’s worth for years.

Purr-niture? Pet furniture searches like “catify your home” are up 4x this year. Our Trends report drops startup ideas and product inspiration, like a litter box cabinet making $139k/mo.

Chart
decline of wafer-making nuns

Zachary Crockett

How nuns got squeezed out of the wafer business

Sister Ruth Starman opens the door to a red brick building on the sprawling 500-acre campus of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.

We’re in rural Clyde, Missouri, but it feels like Italy. Imposing turrets and steeples peek out above stalks of corn and grassy meadows. Bells ring throughout the day.

Just a few years ago…

… the place was a bustling enterprise. After morning prayers, the nuns baked communion wafers here, sometimes churning out 2m+ in a week and shipping them to clients ranging from parishes to prisons to Princess Cruise Lines.

Communion wafers used to be almost entirely produced by nuns. But today it’s a different story.

Now, almost every communion wafer comes from the for-profit Cavanagh Company, the United States’ altar bread monopoly.

Read the full story →
Free Resource

35 code snippets for familiar website features

Next time you’re cranking out a website, don’t sleep on code snippets.

They exist to be stolen. You can save hella time with text blocks that are ready to use and easy to improve on.

We’ve compiled dozens. Take these coding templates to start baking in useful site features like menus, buttons, search bars, animations, and more.

HTML, CSS, and JavaScript coding templates for:

  • CSS effects
  • CSS accordions
  • Nav menus and breadcrumbs
  • Progress bars
  • Button transitions
  • Web forms and search bars

Tons of cut-and-paste options at your disposal. Right here.

35 code templates →
More Madness
basketball

The NCAA wants more Madness

Every year in March, millions of fans attempt to craft the perfect bracket, and the NCAA gets to make ~$1B.

But soon, a perfect bracket may be even harder to crack and the NCAA may get even richer, as the organization is considering expanding its basketball tournaments, per Axios.

March Madness…

… currently includes 68 teams, but a proposed plan could increase the field to 96. Opinions vary among college coaches:

  • Miami’s Jim Larrañaga and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim favor the idea, believing it could give more teams more opportunity.
  • Others, like Virginia’s Tony Bennett, think expansion could lead to the tournament losing its luster.

If it happens…

… the NCAA would join several professional and amateur sports leagues that have added games in recent years, including:

  • The FBS, which introduced a four-team college football playoff in 2014.
  • The NFL, which increased its regular season from 16 to 17 games in 2021.
  • The NBA, which launched a play-in tournament for the seventh through 10th seeds in 2021.
  • The MLB, which expanded its wild card format from one game to a three-game series this season.

While expanding the tournament would objectively offer more opportunity, it’s hard to overlook the NCAA’s financial motives.

The tournament accounts for 85%+ of the association’s annual revenue, and every added game is another chance to milk the cash cow.

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AROUND THE WEB

📉 On this day: In 1987, AKA Black Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 22.6%, the largest single-day decline in history.

😱 How to: Scream to make yourself feel better.

🎥 Haha: This website’s single purpose is to prove you could end any film with Dire Straits’ “Walk of Life.”

🎃 Spooky: Hyperallergic asked DALL-E to recreate famous artworks, but scary.

🍰 Aww: And now, who wants whipped cream?

Meme
bear fishing

AI-generated image of “A brown bear sits in the foggy morning on the bank of the river with a fishing rod.” Prompt courtesy of Andrey from Odessa. Have an idea? Submit it here.

How did you like today’s email?
Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, and Rob Litterst.
Editing by: Mark “Diaper Dandy” Dent.

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