SEIU to hold Labor Day festival in St. Paul

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On the opening day of the Republican National Convention, the Service Employees International Union will sponsor a festival on St. Paul’s Harriet Island to celebrate workers’ achievements and “promote a New Vision for the 21st Century,” organizers said.

The festival will run from noon to 7 p.m. on Sept. 1, Labor Day, at Harriet Island Regional Park in the Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul. The Republican National Convention, which runs from Sept. 1 to 4 at the Xcel Center in St. Paul, is expected to draw 45,000 attendees and equal numbers of protesters.

The festival will feature musicians Steve Earle, Allison Moorer and Tom Morello and speakers will include former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards, SEIU President Andy Stern and Change to Win Chair Anna Burger.

In addition to the Labor Day concert, the festival will include a You Tube station, a fully equipped blogger lounge, a children’s area and a large audience-participation art project. CORRECTION: Festival tickets will be $10 from Ticketmaster.

“This fall, working people in America have the opportunity of a lifetime to change our country and create an America that works for everyone,” SEIU said in announcing the festival. Key issues that will be discussed include:

• Affordable, quality healthcare for everyone;

• Wages that can support families;

• Freedom to join unions without intimidation;

• Retirement security.

Earle, a Grammy-winning singer and songwriter, is also known for his progressive political views. He and Moorer, who are married, co-wrote and perform on his Grammy-winning album, “Washington Square Serenade.”

Morello, a solo performer and a member of “Rage Against the Machine,” recently launched The Justice Tour, a nationwide tour that included a benefit concert at each stop. In Chicago, he spent the day “walking in the shoes” of an SEIU child care provider. He appears with Bruce Springsteen on a new live EP performing “Ghost of Tom Joad” and his solo album, The Fabled City, will be released this September.

With 2 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas, representing workers in health care, public services and property services.

The St. Paul Trades & Labor Assembly, which has held Labor Day picnics and festivals at Harriet Island in the past, decided not to hold an event this year.