Eric Dean completed his apprenticeship in 1984 and became a journeyman ironworker in Local 63 (Chicago). As an accomplished ironworker, he worked for various contractors as a journeyman, foreman and project superintendent throughout the Chicago area.
From 1989 until 1995, he served as an apprentice instructor and earned the status of certified welding inspector. He became very involved in his local union serving as conductor, trustee, vice president and business agent. Recognizing his leadership skills, General President Jake West appointed him general organizer for the International in 1999, assigning him to the Department of Ornamental, Architectural and Miscellaneous Metals (DOAMM).
In 2005, Dean was elected as president of the Chicago and Vicinity District Council of Iron Workers. General President Joseph Hunt appointed Dean as general vice president effective August 4, 2008. General President Walter Wise appointed Dean as general secretary effective February 1, 2011. The general executive council unanimously elected Dean as general president effective July 1, 2015.