NEW YORK (CBS 2/WCBS 880) — Even after his spectacular meltdown, Steven Slater says he shouldn’t be fired, and he picked up the backing of a powerful airline employees union on Friday.
Love him or hate him – is he really fit to fly? That’s the question many were asking on Friday, the same same day video surfaced of his bizarre escape from JetBlue Flight 1052 on Monday.
In the most turbulent week of Steven Slater’s high-flying career, he’s gone from cocky to contrite. Now, despite the take-your-job-and-shove-it stunt, Slater says he hopes to keep his job as a JetBlue flight attendant, reports CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown.
After four days of fanfare, which he admitted was “a bit much,” Slater’s attorney said the disgruntled employee wishes he could go back to work.
LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports
“JetBlue is a wonderful airline that he has loved working for – that he wants to continue working for,” said Howard Turman, Slater’s attorney. Slater’s theatrical exit made him a hit with hard workers around the world, and he may now have a much more powerful ally.
The Association of Flight Attendants, the world’s largest flight attendant union, says it’s prepared to step in with an armload of resources to help Slater defend himself – and possibly return to the skies – despite the fact that Slater isn’t a union member.
“We protect flight attendants, period,” said a union rep who also said Slater has not yet contacted them.
Currently, Slater’s status is “suspended,” but an internal memo from JetBlue’s Chief Operating Officer to the airline staff and board of directors indicates the company might give Slater a much more permanent label, calling his actions “unacceptable.”
The memo offers the first timeline of events for the Monday meltdown, as Slater allegedly uttered the expletives over the public address system, deployed the emergency chute and slid down to the tarmac with two beers in hand. But the memo also shows that top JetBlue officials aren’t sure what exactly transpired to cause the tarmac tantrum.
CBS 2 has obtained video of Slater’s slide to unemployment.
“There’s much more to this story that we don’t know, including was there an altercation on the flight that precipitated or motivated Mr. Slater’s action? It’s unclear,” the memo reads. “No one has stepped forward to tell their side of the story, and multiple customers from different areas of the cabin have given interviews that tell a different story.”
According to the memo, JetBlue is working with police and also conducting its own investigation to find who the memo calls “the alleged passenger who sparked Slater’s outburst.”
In the meantime, passengers have their own opinions on whether Slater should be allowed to return to the skies.
“He did hit the back of my seat,” said passenger Howard Deneroff. “But it didn’t move…It was already up…It was probably broken. He seemed testy.”
“It makes me so mad,” said another passenger, Lauren Wood. “He’s not a hero, he was rude.”
Jet Blue flight attendants, like others in the industry, are paid on a block schedule, which doesn’t include the time it takes to board and deplane. When Slater had his now-infamous meltdown, he was officially on-duty, but he was technically off-the-clock.
The AFA says that distinction could help Slater when it comes to his legal defense – but it may not help him keep his job.
Slater’s father was a pilot and his mother was a flight attendant, and his attorney argues that flying the skies is in Slater’s blood.