Who We Are

President's Message

Prepared to Lead

As your next general president, I think a fair question to ask is what makes me qualified or deserving to serve as the thirteenth general president of our union.

A little of my background and beliefs will probably help you understand how I reached this point in my ironworking career. I am a fourth generation ironworker and some might think that my Iron Worker roots alone make me qualified to serve and lead our union. While I am proud of my family’s heritage, it is not the definitive answer to the question of my qualifications. I believe our union’s strength comes from each and every member in the United States and Canada engaged in the fabrication, installation and erection of iron. Whether you are a first generation ironworker or have a family history, you are equally important to our organization.

Serving in various roles of leadership in my home Local 63 in Chicago helped prepare me for this opportunity to lead. However, serving Chicago alone is not enough to answer the question either. While it helps to be from an area that has maintained and developed strength as a union, my travels as a general organizer to almost every area of our International in both countries has allowed me to see areas of great strength and operational efficiency, as well as learn from areas that have lost market share and the ability to secure adequate wages and conditions for our members.

During my time in the field, I worked my way up from an apprentice to running work, and am proud of the training I received in the apprenticeship program. I pride myself on being a union man — honest, fair, loyal, with a good work ethic who lives up to the collective bargaining agreement. Our training programs provide some of the best skilled members our union has to offer, though it is not, and should not, be the sole method of entry into our union. Just because some are fortunate enough to pass a test and get accepted into an apprenticeship program, it cannot be the only way our union gets its members. Unorganized workers engaged in the ironworking industry must be welcomed into our union, and if necessary be given the opportunity to bring their skills up to our standards. I have heard it all about such workers, from “not paying your dues” to “buying a book” to “I am more qualified because I served an apprenticeship.” I agree receiving apprenticeship training gives a person a distinct advantage, but keeping out those who engage in the ironworking industry only serves to weaken our goal. It is this simple: If we have the workforce, we then are able to demand better wages and working conditions. Period. We must strive for more workers and work opportunities for our union.

I will encourage our members to be politically engaged. We cannot pin all our hopes on one political party. I served as the district council president in Chicago and spent time in our state’s capital and I could talk to democrats from the Chicago area and make great progress, but soon realized that to represent all ironworkers in our district council it was necessary to seek out and identify members of both parties to advocate for policies and jobs that benefit working people. Many of our members have beliefs opposed to various core principles of one party or another. Our union’s main concern in supporting political candidates should be, “Do you stand with working families and do you support policies promoting good paying jobs?” Let’s leave the wedge issues that divide us out of our conversations. We will continue to encourage voter registration as a core principle of our International constitution. Regardless of party, it is essential our members vote in all elections, from the union level to the highest office in the land. Think of the influence we have by engaging in electing those who spend our tax dollars.

I expect a few things of our members. You will need to hold people accountable. This includes other members, leaders of local unions and district councils, as well as the International officers and staff. Make sure the safety of our members is the first and last thing on your mind; it is in the best interests for both our union and our signatory employers. Make sure our contractors are profitable so we can share in the profits through wages and benefits. Be proud of your skills and your union and recognize our differences of ethnicity, gender and ironworker trade are a part of our success, and that each and every member is equally important to our union.

Now that I have explained my beliefs, let me tell where I have gained much of my experience up until now. I worked three summers in several Chicago area fab shops before I started my apprenticeship in Local 63 in 1980. I graduated to journeyman in 1984, and not long after became an instructor and a certified welding inspector for the apprenticeship school, and later worked training in the National Ironworkers Training Program for American Indians. I have served in various offices in my local union up to business agent and was elected as a delegate to represent my local union at four International Iron Workers Conventions. I went to work for the International in 1999, hired as a general organizer by General President Jake West serving the National Training Fund and the Ornamental Department. I then became the Chicago District Council president and a general vice president on General President Joseph Hunt’s executive council. In 2011, General President Walter Wise appointed me to the office of general secretary and later that year; I was elected at the International Iron Workers Convention. For four and a half years, I have worked with all local unions on behalf of our members. I have sat on state boards back home dealing with elected officials, labor leaders and business leaders, presented jurisdictional arbitration, both locally and nationally, served as a trustee on health and welfare, pension, IMPACT and the National Training Fund (NTF), and worked under and learned from three general presidents. All of this has led me to be at this place here and now.

As we go forward, I will lead and I will listen. I will be guided by the constitution, executive council and our membership. Ultimately, decisions will be made I know will not be agreed on by everyone. I will not be afraid to make the decisions needed to help our union grow and prosper on behalf of all our members.

If you know me personally, you know how proud I am of my family — my deceased father Ray, my mom Patricia, my brother Ray (wife Maria), my kids Lisa (husband Matt), Traci and Eric, my granddaughter Stella, and wife of 32 years, Judy.

I would like to thank my family for all their love and support over the years and for their understanding when work takes me away from home.

I will stand shoulder to shoulder with each member to make 
our union a leader in the construction industry.

Eric Dean, 1051885
General President

A Holiday Message from General President Walter Wise 

As 2014 comes to a close, I would like to thank our brother and sister ironworkers, local union leaders, contractors, International officers and staff for a very rewarding year. 

Our commitment to excellence across the U.S. and Canada reflects on our resilient work ethic to complete projects safely, on time, and within budget, while employing the best qualified ironworkers, performing at the highest levels.

The projects you have built are impressive. Your attention to quality in the construction of bridges, buildings, stadiums, arenas, hospitals, towers and wind turbines reflect on the highly skilled training and work ethic our customers have come to expect from the Iron Workers Union.  Alone, our accomplishments are great. Together, they are a record of achievement few can match.

Thanks to your hard work, I am confident we are prepared for new challenges ahead in the coming year.

My sincere best wishes to you and your family for the holiday season and thank you for keeping each other safe.




A Message from General President Walter Wise on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the joys and blessings of the past year. It is a time also for saying thanks to our Iron Worker families and contractors in the United States and Canada for a job well done. Your commitment, creativity and high standards have helped us grow.  As was true with the original Thanksgiving; communication, cooperation and working together can bring amazing results.  I am grateful for your efforts.


As you prepare to travel or stay close to home to celebrate the fruits of this harvest season, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving filled with abundance. 


A Message from General President Walter Wise on Veterans Day/Remembrance Day 

Honor. Courage. Loyalty. These three words signify the commitment to service the men and women in our armed forces in the United States and Canada made, and the sacrifices they and their family members have endured to protect our freedom. 


The history of Iron Workers dates back to 1896. We cherish these key values as we express our gratitude for those who have served our great nations. Your vision, insight and energy—qualities that have made you successful in the military—are all crucial to the success of our union, our contractors and the projects we build. Like veterans, ironworkers take pride in the work we perform. As with your military service, we adhere to the code of our Standards of Excellence, recognizing the importance of world-class training, delivering the objective of a project finished on time and within budget, and committing to the safety of our brethren.


While you no longer don the uniform of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force or Coast Guard, your courage and commitment stands as a beacon to us all. It is with gratitude and respect that we are all proud to call you our brother or sister. 


Veterans/Remembrance Day is a day where we take time out of our day to show appreciation for individuals who showed honor, courage and loyalty by putting duty to country first. 


Thank you to all who served.

November 11, 2014

wise signature


2014 Safety Intervention

General President Walter Wise, General Secretary Eric Dean, Executive Directory of Safety & Health Steve Rank and IMPACT CEO Kevin Hilton conduct a safety intervention webcast.

August 28, 2014

General President's Video Blogs

Owners and contractors share advice on how ironworkers can improve performance and grow market share.

March 15, 2013


Statement From Iron Workers General President Walter Wise: ANSI Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) Passes New Safety Standards for Reinforcing Steel and Post-Tensioning

I am pleased to announce that the ANSI A10 Accredited Standards Committee for Construction and Demolition Operations recently voted to approve new amendments to the ANSI A10.9 Concrete and Masonry Standard.  The revised standard contains comprehensive safety standards pertaining to reinforcing steel and post-tensioning operations.  The A10 ASC includes a voting membership of 73 labor and management construction organizations and requires a 66 percent vote for new standards to pass.  The recent A10.9 Concrete and Masonry ballot passed with a 98 percent YES vote.

In January of 2012, Steve Rank, Executive Director of Safety and Health, was appointed as Chairman of the A10.9 Concrete and Masonry Subgroup and worked closely with the A10 ASC members to propose new safety standards developed by the industry coalition of reinforcing steel stakeholders.  The new safety standards address site conditions for crane access and material storage, column guying and stability, formwork inspection and stability prior to access, impalement protection, hoisting and rigging of rebar assemblies, post-tensioning operations, fall protection and special training requirements.

The adoption of new ANSI A10.9 Standards will help the International Association and the industry coalition of reinforcing steel stakeholders to pursue new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Standards.  The Safety and Health Department will work closely with District Councils and Local Unions to pursue new OSHA Standards in states that currently operate under State Approved OSHA Plans.

I would like to thank the District Councils, Local Unions and the industry coalition of reinforcing steel stakeholders for your efforts to raise the standard of safety performance for our members and contractors in the reinforcing steel industry.

January 11, 2013

General President Walter Wise’s Statement on the Resignation of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis:

The Iron Workers have been a staunch supporter of Secretary Solis throughout her entire career in public service during which her strong advocacy on behalf of working families and the labor movement has never wavered.  Her passion for worker issues; support of workplace safety and against attacks on collective bargaining rights returned the Department of Labor to its original mandate of protecting workers.

Throughout the depths of the economic crisis, as opposition forces claimed regulations, enforcement and organized labor were no longer relevant in the United States, Secretary Solis stood by working families. “They got it backwards,” she told the delegates at our 42nd Convention in Chicago. Sec. Solis, whose immigrant factory worker parents benefited immensely from the collective bargaining rights we enjoy here in the United States, knows firsthand how unions help both individuals and the economy. Her tireless efforts have proven integral to the preservation and expansion of these rights for working families everywhere.

I would like to thank Secretary Hilda Solis, a steadfast friend and ally of the Iron Workers, and wish her all the best in her future endeavors.

January 10, 2013

A Special Election Message from our General Officers

President Obama has made his commitment to unions clear. Now, he needs your vote.

President Obama has fought to ensure that projects like the Dulles Rail in Washington, D.C., benefit from quality union labor by increasing Davis-Bacon enforcement.  Yet, Romney promised to repeal Davis-Bacon "on day one," claiming that the Act "forces the government to pay above-average market wages" to labor unions and contributes to "government waste."

As a union ironworker, you have a choice to make this presidential election.  When President Obama urged Congress to pass a vital infrastructure bill to put more Americans back to work, Romney's political party said "no."  Now, where is the investment for our future? The answer is simple: Job-creating infrastructure investments have been blocked by Republican filibusters in the Senate.

A special video message from General President Wise: You have a choice to make in this presidential election.

Fairness & Equality For All: A Special Endorsement Message From General President Wise.