Waltons Give Themselves Huge Raise. Pass the Bill to Workers, Taxpayers

The Waltons, the richest family in the United States, and the owners of nearly half of all Walmart stock, just announced they’ve given themselves a raise of $436 million dollars. The Board of Directors, which includes three members of the Walton family, just voted to increase the annual dividend by 18% over the previous fiscal year. As a result, the Waltons’ Walmart dividends alone in FY14 will top $3 billion.

According to the latest numbers from Forbes, the Walton family is now worth more than $115 billion. We’ve written previously about how the Walton family has more wealth than the bottom 42% of American families combined. And, they just keep getting richer.

Meanwhile, Walmart workers are living in poverty – a full-time worker reportedly averages just $15,500/year. And the Huffington Post revealed recently that Walmart associates face strict caps on annual raises for good performance. For the average employee making $8.81 an hour, the best possible raise for “role model” performance under Walmart’s rules amounts to less than 7%–nowhere near the Waltons’ 18% this year. (There are four performance levels below this top rating.)

While the Waltons pile their stacks of money higher, the American taxpayer subsidizes Walmart’s low-wages and poor benefits. In many states across the country, Walmart is the employer with the largest number of employees and dependents using taxpayer-funded health insurance programs.

In Massachusetts, in 2009, taxpayers paid $8.8 million for Walmart associates to use publicly subsidized healthcare services.

In addition, a 2007 study found that, as of that date, Walmart had received more than $1.2 billion in tax breaks, free land, infrastructure assistance, low-cost financing and outright grants from state and local governments around the country.   This number has surely increased as Walmart continues to receive additional subsidies.