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NJ Assembly Passes Legislation Requiring Public Workers To Pay More For Benefits

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- The New Jersey Assembly has passed landmark employee benefits legislation requiring more than 500,000 public workers to pay sharply more for pension and health benefits.

The divisive bill did not have the backing of most Democrats. It passed with support from the GOP caucus and a smattering of Democrats.

The Senate approved the bill Monday. And Gov. Chris Christie is expected to sign it soon.

Republican Assemblyman Jay Webber said the bill is fair to workers and taxpayers and will begin reinvigorating the state's debt-ridden pension and benefits funds.

Democrat Patrick Diegnan called the legislation "124 pages of union busting activities" and says collective bargaining over health care should not be suspended.

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More than 8,000 public workers and union protesters have taken to the street in front of the New Jersey Statehouse in a last-ditch attempt to stop pension and benefits legislation.

Unionized workers staged a New Orleans-style funeral procession, marching with drums loud enough to be heard inside the Statehouse. Protesters also chanted "kill the bill."

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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