Union protest echoes through Oregon Capitol

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SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- Oregon's largest public employee union briefly took over the state Capitol on Thursday.

Members of the Service Employees International Union staged a sit-in under the Capitol rotunda. Their chants and whistles echoed off the marble walls as lawmakers debated legislation in the nearby House chamber.

Union members say they want lawmakers to know that state workers have made tough sacrifices in pay, health care and other benefits to help the state balance its budget. They say the Legislature should look at closing tax benefits for businesses before demanding more sacrifices from workers trying to earn a middle class wage.

Republican lawmakers have said workers should be expected to contribute more to their health care and retirement costs.

Unions are currently negotiating with the state on terms of a new contract.