The ironworker trade appealed to Marvin Hodge from an early age when he saw Ironworkers on the Discovery Channel, so much so that he took welding in high school. He went straight into the construction industry after graduation.
“I don’t have any children,” the southern Maryland native remarks, “but one day when I do have children I’ll take them around Washington, D.C. and I can just point to any corner and I can tell them I put that building together. I worked there, I worked there.”
Hodge is currently working on the Dulles Rail Project which, when complete, will extend the metro system from Washington D.C. through Tysons Corner and all the way to the Dulles Airport. Marvin knows this project is unique in scale and also importance, “it will open up so much opportunity for people. You’re broadening the territory for people to take job interviews.”
One of the pieces of equipment used at the site is the 300-ton truss, which as Hodge notes, “is not something everyone gets to work on. It can be dangerous and scary and you definitely have to be well trained to work on it safely.” (Video of Marvin explaining the truss)
Not only will the project benefit the local economy and ease nightmarish commutes for residents, but Marvin explains that after working on the project for 6 months, he was able to purchase his first home.
Hodge is one of more than a 1,000 journeymen and apprentices making up Ironworkers Local 5, which is based in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, but works in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Ironworkers Local 5, like any of our building and construction trades unions, offers an extensive apprenticeship program to its members. As Marvin puts it, “you take so many classes that prepare you for the things you’re going to face in the field.” Part of this training includes first building and then working on a stand-alone structure to give the apprentices hands-on experience.
As Hodge puts it, referring to the need for skilled labor on construction projects: “You definitely need skilled union workers that have the training already under their belt because it does make a big difference in quality.”