TRENTON - Gov. Chris Christie, who gained a national reputation fighting the state's teachers' and public-employee unions, said yesterday that organized labor should have collective-bargaining rights.

A day after proposing a state budget that requires public employees to pay more for pension and health benefits, Christie told MSNBC's Joe Scarborough that he supports "responsible" collective bargaining, but quickly added, "We haven't had that in New Jersey."

Christie's comments come as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker attempts to limit collective bargaining to help balance the state's budget. Walker's proposals have upended Statehouse operations there, and a solidarity protest is planned for tomorrow outside the New Jersey Statehouse.

Christie, a Republican who has accused his Democratic predecessor of being too lenient with state workers, said that he doesn't think the bargaining process should be polite.

"It should be an adversarial situation," he said. "Somebody should be representing the taxpayers."

Former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine negotiated state-worker givebacks, including an 18-month wage freeze and furlough days. Union workers' contracts expire in June; leaders of the state's largest union, the Communications Workers of America, say Christie has yet to meet with them.

Even if Christie favored ending collective bargaining, he wouldn't get support from the Democratic majority in the Legislature, especially not in 2011, when all 120 legislative seats are up for re-election.

Labor leaders also were vocal yesterday in opposing Christie's efforts to privatize toll collections on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway.

Christie's second budget assumes millions in savings from privatizing certain, unspecified services and agencies. The governor's office and treasurer's office didn't immediately respond to an e-mail request yesterday for details on the administration's privatization plans.

A task force told the governor in July that New Jersey could save $200 million a year by privatizing toll collections, prison food and medical services, and other government services.