Rev. Jesse Jackson stands on the steps at the War Memorial June 1 in Trenton, N.J., as he addresses union members. The protest took place across the street from the NJ Statehouse, where Gov. Chris Christie is negotiating with state workers. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A war of words has erupted in New Jersey over a proposal to require public workers to pay more for health benefits, with the largest public worker union denouncing the plan as dishonest and the Legislature’s top Democrat dismissing the unions’ position as selfish.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney, the Democrat driving the proposal to raise health and pension benefits contributions for state, county and local workers through legislation, agreed Monday to support a provision to allow the changes to expire after four years. But that seemed to do little to win over reluctant Democrats in the Legislature or change the unions’ staunch opposition to what they see as an infringement on collective bargaining.

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