4Henry Clay Frick
Henry Clay Frick was the Chairman of Carnegie Steel, and also proud owner of the titles "the most hated man in America" and "Harry Cock-Bag."
Not to be confused with this hairy cock bag.
Here's a fun story about Frick: He started a fishing club for himself and his wealthy friends, buying up a lake in Pennsylvania, just for them. Its dam was constantly leaking, but not wanting to spend the cash to fix it, he let it go until the day it broke and flooded a town, killing 2,000 people.
At which point Frick admitted responsibility and... oh, wait, no. He hid behind his lawyers and spent the money on legal fees instead.
Why He Was An Asshole Boss:
In 1892, the world was just figuring out that everything was more awesome when it was made of steel. Prices were going up and the steel producers of the world (like Andre Carnegie and Mr. Frick) were living in houses made of bling. It just so happened the union's contract was up at a plant Frick was in charge of, and they came to the table asking for a raise.
Frick lit a cigar with a million dollar bill and counter-offered... a 22 percent pay cut.
When the union rejected the deal, Frick's counter-offer involved locking out workers, then installing sniper towers around the plant and cannons that could shoot boiling hot liquids on anyone who approached. He also put up a huge barbed wire fence, though that kind of seems redundant with those first two in place.
Vehicles and maniacal lust for power sold separately.
Thousands of angry employees picketed outside the building, and Frick decided to truck in some nice low-wage workers to replace them. Of course there was the problem of the giant crowd of screaming men outside the plant, so Frick hired 300 Pinkertons--old timey mercenaries with a terrible name--and unleashed them on the crowd.
All hell broke loose. It turned out the striking workers had guns, too, and dynamite, and a cannon. Several people were killed on each side, and dozens more wounded, before once again the military intervened to break things up.
Figuring that this Frick asshole was the real problem, a few weeks later a guy broke into Frick's office and shot him in the neck. Twice. At this point Frick rose up (presumably laughing deeply while his wounds suddenly healed before the assassin's eyes) and fought back. The cops came and arrested the assassin, and Frick was back to work in a week. And by "back to work" we mean he quickly fired 2,500 workers, and halved the pay for the ones who were left.
Frick wouldn't die until 27 years later, when somebody presumably remembered to put a stake through his heart.
3William Bryant and Francis May
William Bryant and Francis May were the owners of the Bryant and May Match Company. For quite a while, if you were a smoker you had Bryant and May matches in your pocket. Also the blood and tears of children.
Why They Were Asshole Bosses:
Look, if you ever have a chance to take a job that requires you to first travel in a time machine to Victorian era England, don't do it. This is Scrooge era here, when filthy children roamed the streets, eating rats and doing adorable song and dance numbers.
So how shitty of a boss did you have to be to become the subject of huge public backlash in those days? Let's examine the Bryant and May method.
First, you hire nothing but young, teenage girls. There were plenty of them around, they had no other opportunities, and they weren't likely to beat you down with lead pipes when they got fed up with your shit. You work them 12 hours a day, and pay them in the neighborhood of four shillings a week (the equivalent of $20... in today's money).
The exact amount Corey Feldman was paid to be in The Lost Boys sequel
Since forcing the workers to scrape by on quite a bit less than what it costs to buy food still wasn't keeping morale quite low enough, they imposed a series of petty fines for a long list of offenses--everything from going to the bathroom without permission, to having dirty feet. When one girl let a machine jam up rather than have it tear off her finger, she was told the machine was more important, dammit, and to never let it happen again. When another girl did get her hand mangled, she was given the boot. Can't make matches one-handed!
However, Bryant and May couldn't help but notice the other match companies were still making more money. What were they doing wrong? Clearly they weren't abusing their employees enough... was there some kind of torture device they could be using? Maybe if they just let wild badgers run loose on the production floor?
They had a better idea. They had been making their matches with the extremely flammable but otherwise safe red phosphorous. But there was this other kind, white phosphorous, that was way cheaper. And there was absolutely no downside.
Oh, except it would literally eat your face off when you handled it.
Seriously. They called the condition phossy jaw. It was caused by breathing the fumes for too long. The symptoms start with toothache, which led to swelling, abscesses and then a putrid discharge caused by your jaw bone actually rotting inside your head.
Then your jaw would actually start to glow green. It fucking glowed. The only treatment was jaw amputation, which had to be done before organ failure killed the victim.
Keep in mind, Bryant and May knew this; white phosphorous matches and the corresponding side effects had been around for decades. The girls at the factory finally went on strike, figuring horrifying deformities were the final straw. The whole "glow in the dark face-rot" won the sympathy of labor activists at the time, and the women eventually won the right to experience something less than David Cronenberg-levels of horror at their workplace.
The Bryant and May company, of course, stayed in business for decades and made its owners huge amounts of money.