Jon Gardner Retires as Seventh District Vice President; Steven Speer Appointed


May 13, 2013

Gardner was re-elected in 2011 at the 38th IBEW Convention in Vancouver.

Seventh District International Vice President Jon Gardner will retire from office on June 1.

International President Edwin D. Hill appointed International Representative Steve Speer as his replacement, which was confirmed by the International Executive Council.

A native of Salem, Mass., Gardner moved to Tucson, Ariz. in his early youth, later enrolling in University of Arizona as an electrical engineering major.

Securing a summer job during college in a copper mine north of Tucson, Gardner says, “I began working as a miner, breaking rock with a 16-pound double-jack, 2,000 feet underground.”

In 1961, after transferring to the mine’s electrical department, Gardner joined Tucson Local 570 and was enlisted to teach an IBEW-sponsored course in electronics.

Working a straight midnight shift in the mine to continue his education, Gardner was tapped by a new Local 570 business manager to serve as assistant. In 1966, after completing his electrical engineering degree, he was hired as an International Representative.

In a letter to Seventh District local unions, Gardner says, “Over my career in the IBEW, I had the good fortune of assisting in organizing thousands of new members, negotiating hundreds of contracts and handling hundreds of cases at arbitration and before the NLRB. However the goal of all these activities was to empower and serve the membership. They are the most important people in the IBEW.”

Brother Gardner, whose father was a member of the Machinists Union, says his greatest challenge was convincing local unions and signatory contractors to embrace change. He expresses pride that all locals in the district voluntarily adopted the Code of Excellence.

In his letter, Gardner says, “I’m not going to retire to a rocking chair…” He may heed his wife’s advice to write a book about his career and is planning to assist other unionists with arbitration cases and hearings before the NLRB.

“It may sound corny, but I like the members I worked for. Helping someone do something they didn’t think they could do is the best part of this job.”

International Representative Steve Speer replaces Gardner.

A Phoenix native and member of Local 640, Speer says he looks forward to the challenges and opportunities ahead.

“I feel a great responsibility to the members of the Seventh District and a great responsibility to International Vice President Gardner to carry on the vital progress he’s made in advancing the IBEW throughout the Southwest.”

Says President Hill:

International Vice President Jon Gardner helmed the Seventh District through some of the toughest times for the labor movement we’ve seen in generations. But under his watch, the IBEW has seen steady growth and has been at the forefront of change – for our Brotherhood and the electrical industry. On behalf of the officers, staff and members of the IBEW, I wish Jon and his family all the best and thank him for his service.