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amazon-fullA small group of Amazon.com workers at a fulfillment center in Delaware overwhelmingly rejected an effort to unionize under the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers in a vote held this evening. The vote was 21 to 6. A majority was needed to accept the union.

While representing a small number of workers at the 1,500-person facility, the vote was symbolic since it would have represented the first union to operate at the Seattle-based company. Amazon.com officials did not miss a step in using the vote to tout its progressive work environment, issuing this statement:

“With today’s vote against third-party representation, our employees have made it clear that they prefer a direct connection with Amazon. This direct connection is the most effective way to understand and respond to the wants and needs of our employees. Amazon’s culture and business model are based on rapid innovation, flexibility and open lines of direct communication between managers and associates. In addition to competitive wages with comprehensive benefits, bonuses, 401(k) with 50% match, innovative programs like Career Choice and stock awards, we provide a network of support to ensure our employees succeed. We will continue our strong focus on creating a great work environment that supports all of our employees.”

Amazon.com has been working hard to burnish its image, especially at its large fulfillment centers around the world. After a BBC report last fall alleged that conditions at those facilities could lead to mental illness, Amazon.com shot back by issuing a statement saying that safety is the company’s “number one priority.”

Paul Carr, a spokesman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, tells BloombergBusinessWeek that the tactics used by Amazon.com to defeat the union push were very effective. “Under the intense pressures these workers faced on the shop floor, it was an uphill battle all the way,” Carr said.

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