Romney sign
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during a town hall meeting campaign stop at Eagle Manufacturing Corporation Feb. 21, 2012 in Shelby Township, Mich. He says employees should be able to opt out of mandatory union dues. - 

Adriene Hill: Right now, the Republican primary is close in Michigan. Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are leading the pack. Romney's doing his best to sway voters to his side by playing up his Michigan roots and pushing hard for a law that would get rid of mandatory union membership.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra reports.

Jennifer Guerra: By now, you've probably heard how much Mitt Romney loves Michigan: the trees, the lakes, the cars. The state's current labor laws? Not so much. Here's Romney at a recent campaign stop in Michigan.

Mitt Romney: My view is, every person in America ought to have the right to choose whether to join the union or not, so I'm in favor of right-to-work legislation.

So-called "right-to-work" laws would allow workers in union shops to opt out of joining a union and paying dues. Romney's been making it a big talking point as he campaigns across Michigan -- a state with a strong union history.

Republican state representative Mike Shirkey couldn't be happier with the timing.

Mike Shirkey: The fact that Gov. Romney has chosen to make this a key part of his message in Michigan is awesome for us!

Shirkey plans to introduce a right-to-work bill to the Michigan legislature soon. Twenty-three states have already passed similar laws. Shirkey says getting rid of mandatory union membership will create more jobs and bring more investment in Michigan. Opponents say it's flat out union-busting.

Michigan's Republican governor Rick Snyder -- who endorsed Romney -- calls the whole right-to-work debate divisive. He says focusing on fixing the economy is more important.

In Ann Arbor, I'm Jennifer Guerra for Marketplace.