The gap has widened between salaries in West Virginia and all of its bordering states except for Virginia. In Maryland, where the gap is the largest, the average salary in 2012-13 was almost $19,000 more.
Officials say that contributes to teacher shortages in West Virginia. West Virginia colleges and universities produce plenty of graduates with education degrees, they say, but not enough of them choose to stay in West Virginia to teach.
"We are an exporter of education graduates to other states while positions in our own state remain unfilled," Lee said.
With higher salaries, Lee said, the state could attract more quality educators to West Virginia, and keep the ones that it already has.
"To me it's a respect issue, making sure that our teachers feel respected and valued," Less said. "And a big part of that is the salary."
The campaign also extends to other school professionals, like aids and bus drivers, but there aren't reliable figures to compare their salaries across states.
The campaign is aimed at state legislators. Lee didn't specify where the state would get the money to give teachers pay raises, or what salary the union feels would be competitive.
Contact writer Shay Maunz at shay.ma...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4886.