In Loving Memory of Opal Skilling

December 8, 2014

It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing of Sister Opal Skilling, a long-time activist who made an incredible impact on our union’s history.

In 1962, Opal Skilling started out with OPEIU Local 15, later to become COPE 15 before merging with MoveUP in 2010. Local 15 was created by fifteen brave women who worked for trade unions in British Columbia. Local 15 was instrumental in increasing respect for women’s labour, at a time when it was far from accepted in the labour movement at large. Local 15 acted as a conscience of the labour movement and pushed them to realize that treating women in the workforce more fairly was good for everyone.

Opal served for many, many years as the secretary-treasurer of Local 15 as it grew to 1,900 members, and her influence is still felt today in the way our union does business. For example, she is responsible for the dispatch system that allows our members who work at union offices to be considered first for similar jobs at other unions if they are laid off. Opal recognized members could be protected in tough economic times by connecting them to other union employers.

In recognition of her decades of dedication to our union, she was named an Honourary Lifetime Member of MoveUP.

Sister Opal Skilling’s absence will be deeply felt in our union and the labour movement as a whole. We are grateful to still have the memory of her generosity and warmth of spirit, as well as her incredible dedication and drive for equality and social justice.

In Solidarity,

David Black