"The freedom we have didn't come easily," union leader Rae Raeder said. "Now it is our turn. We elected you, and we will take you out."
On the steps of the Statehouse, next to the union rally, two other rallies took advantage of the almost 1,000 enthusiastic protesters already in the state capital. Women's groups denounced cuts to women's health clinics, and environmental activists condemned what they called efforts to roll back the state's green protections, including Christie's decision to withdraw New Jersey from a regional antipollution pact.
The Senate's Environment and Energy Committee on Monday approved legislation to force the governor to stay in a multistate pact to reduce greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.
New Jersey is one of 10 states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which seeks to reduce carbon dioxide pollution in the Northeast 10 percent by 2018. Christie recently announced that he intended to pull New Jersey out of the pact, saying it has failed to cut pollution and costs taxpayers money.
The legislation now heads to the full Senate.
"I could have come out here for all three rallies," Susan Coen of Elizabeth said at the woman's rights rally. "It shows New Jersey is a lot less apathetic than we might have thought."
The protesters assembling Monday morning were backed by Revolutionary War reenactors dressed in 18th-century garb who marched from Pennsylvania to Trenton via a bridge spanning the Delaware River, simulating George Washington's crossing in 1776.
Union members holding a giant banner reading "The Second Battle of Trenton" joined others impersonating Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and Sojourner Truth.
"In my husband's thoughts on government published in the beginning of 17 and 76, he clearly stated that the laws of the liberal education of youth, particularly the lower classes, are so just and youthful that to a generous mind that no expense or purpose should be thought extravagant," said a woman in a flowing dress who identified herself as portraying Abigail Adams.
Many carried signs reading "Don't tread on me" - a slogan that, in recent years, has been appropriated by the tea party movement, which supports the sweeping cuts to government spending that those protesting Monday oppose.
Union workers had hoped to camp out overnight in 125 tents erected on the lawn behind the Statehouse, but the state Attorney General's Office denied them a permit. It cited concerns about homeless people gathering and potential civil unrest, said New Jersey Education Association spokesman Steve Wollmer, calling it another attack on workers' rights.
Monday's demonstrations proved less volatile than one Thursday, when 25 protesters were arrested for disrupting a hearing, and a union leader compared Christie and Democrats in the Legislature to Nazis, later apologizing.
Another rally is planned for Thursday, when the Assembly will likely vote on the bill.