General Motors (NYSE: GM - news) has named a union leader to its board of directors, a first for the US automaker and a rarity in American business (Other OTC: ARBU - news) .

GM, which is paying a heavy price for the delayed recall of vehicles linked to 13 deaths, just published its worst quarterly results since emerging from bankruptcy just over three years ago.

In a statement Friday evening, it said it was nominating United Auto Workers Vice President Joe Ashton to its 12-member board of directors.

Ashton, who will represent GM's employee pension fund (VEBA), was expected to resign from his union position in June.

If his nomination is approved by shareholders, he will begin his board term in August.

"Joe brings a wealth of knowledge from his work across many industries, especially his deep understanding how labor strategy can contribute to a company?s success," GM Chairman Tim Solso said.

VEBA has been represented on the GM board since 2009 by Steve Girsky, a former GM vice chairman who will remain on the panel.