Blackie Evans, 1935-2007

One of the things that may have reduced Claude “Blackie” Evans’ influence as a labor leader was that he looked the part too well. In a time when organized labor needed to shed its image as mob connected and boss ridden, the diminutive Blackie Evans looked like he’d been sent over from central casting as a Hoffa stand-in.

While that may have curbed his juice in public relations terms, it didn’t stop him from being an effective champion of working people in Nevada. Whether on picket lines, lobbying the Nevada Legislature, or as an appointed board member of the state workers injury insurance system, Evans was dedicated to workers.

“All of Nevada labor mourns,” said labor activist Andrew Barbano after Evans’ death on Sept. 28. “Throughout his life, he worked tirelessly for the hard working men and women of Nevada and the nation,” said U.S. Sen. Harry Reid.

Evans moved to Nevada in 1953. His labor union career began while he was working first as a laborer and then as a lathe operator at Titanium Metal Corporation in Henderson. He was elected president of the Steelworkers Union Local #4856 in 1963 and head of the Nevada AFL-CIO in 1978. He retired in 1999.