AAt first glance, the advertisements look very different. A furniture store in Colorado is looking for a new accountant. An auto repair shop in Indiana wants to hire an automotive mechatronics technician. A Maine haulage company requires multiple truck drivers. In fact, all of these offers on the American job portal Red Balloon have something in common: They are explicitly aimed at applicants who do not want a corona vaccination.
Red Balloon went online this August. Corporations like Google, Ford, and General Electric avoid the site, but thousands of small businesses from almost every state in the United States are competing there. The portal has become something of a receptacle for America’s vaccine skeptics. As a last hope for those citizens who reject vaccines and have therefore lost their jobs.
“Our site brings job seekers together with employers who don’t care about vaccination,” says founder Andrew Crapuchettes. He describes Red Balloon as the modern “Underground Railroad”. This is a – to put it mildly – bogus comparison: The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes through which tens of thousands of slaves from the southern United States fled to the safe north in the 19th century.
“Most managers are in favor of vaccinations”
Red Balloon has grown in popularity since President Joe Biden made vaccinations mandatory for all federal and public health workers in September. Even larger companies, Biden decreed, must charge the Corona Piks or have their employees tested on a weekly basis. Several cities followed Biden’s lead and introduced similar rules. But many citizens did not agree – and quit their jobs.
In New York, for example, thousands of police officers and firefighters resigned after Mayor Bill de Blasio made vaccination compulsory for all city workers. Some of them may now be looking for a new job at Red Balloon.
Six out of ten American companies want their employees to be vaccinated, according to a survey by the US Chamber of Commerce. Four out of ten are even ready to fire those who refuse. “Most of the managers here,” says Tom Sullivan, Small Business Chamber of Commerce, “advocate vaccinations.”
Red Balloon looks for loopholes
However, there is often great skepticism among employees. Vaccines are available free of charge everywhere in the United States, but only 59 percent of the population could be immunized. For comparison: in Germany it was 68 percent so far. About as many Americans are currently hospitalized with Covid-19 as there were a year ago when there were no vaccines.
The number of infections is particularly high in the southern states. Many Republican governors there do not believe in protective measures, demonizing them as symbols of control and repression.
Crapuchettes also describes Biden’s measures as “tyranny”. He implicitly calls for “rebellion”. His options are limited. Because only companies that employ fewer than 100 people are exempt from Biden’s vaccination rules.
But Red Balloon is looking for loopholes. A lawyer advises restructuring on the website: companies should consider splitting into multiple subsidiaries – each with fewer than 100 employees. Managers, writes the lawyer, could also encourage employees to do their jobs as freelancers in the future. Even so, the size of the staff can be reduced and Biden’s compulsory vaccination can be circumvented.
A third piece of advice from Red Balloon: Companies could simply refuse to require their employees to provide proof of vaccination. According to the lawyer, the American authorities hardly have enough staff to monitor compliance with the rules in every company and to impose massive amounts of fines.
Company lacks staff
A portal like Red Balloon also says something about the state of the American labor market. It shows that applicants can be picky. That vaccine skeptics can afford to turn down job offers from companies that require vaccination.
Because in the USA there is an extreme shortage of employees. “This situation,” says the expert Sullivan, “threatens the economic recovery of our country.”
The unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent in October. It should hardly fall much lower. Because quite a few Americans do not want to or cannot take up employment at the moment. Mothers and fathers stay at home because kindergartens are closed. Older people who were laid off during the corona lockdowns and had taken precautions went into retirement. Some people went into business for themselves, others did not dare to go back to the office for fear of the virus.
All of this now gives anti-vaccination users the luxury of registering on Andrew Crapuchettes’ portal. And look for companies that don’t care much about Corona.
“Everything on stocks” is the daily stock market shot from the WELT business editorial team. Every morning from 7 a.m. with our financial journalists. For stock market experts and newcomers. Subscribe to the podcast at Spotify, Apple Podcast, Amazon Music and Deezer. Or directly per RSS-Feed.