When the Levi Strauss jeans manufacturing plant in San Antonio closed down in 1990, more than 1100 workers were left to find a new job. Some found low-wage work in the hotel industry, others had to take on two jobs just to make ends meet. But two of the plant’s former workers, Petra Mata and Viola Caseres, turned their misfortune into opportunity.
Mata and Caseres decided to start start turning the tide toward social justice by starting their own local denim fashion line called El Hilo de Justicia, which translated into English means the “thread of justice”. Today the group celebrates a dream come true: their very own home-grown jeans label that empowers women. The sewing cooperative is part of a larger community empowerment organization called Fuerza Unida, that runs several other social justice initiatives such as environmental and economic programs.