Germany's largest service sector union, Verdi, has rejected a proposal by German states to liberalize store opening hours. According to news reports, most German states are supporting the plan to let states rather than the federal government decide on opening hours during the work week. Union leaders called on parliamentarians to reject the proposal, saying that longer opening hours would threaten the survival of smaller stores and would make it harder for working women to take care of their kids in the evening. In the northern German state of Lower Saxony, for example, the state's economic minister wants to allow stores to stay open 24 hours except on Sunday. Supporters of the plan say the liberalization could take effect as early as next spring.