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Scientology’s elaborate use of child labor for pennies an hour, spelled out in black and white

[Sunny Pereira, 15]

Sunny Pereira has become a very effective technical expert here at the Bunker, helping us understand Scientology’s arcane ideas. And lately, she’s been going back over some of her own career in the church, and digging out some documents, the sort you don’t see every day.

Sunny joined the Sea Org in 1985 when she was only 12 years old. She left 19 years later, in 2004, and then was presented with this invoice that November. It’s asking her to pay for the job training she got as a 12-year-old. (See the “all the above courses are with the minor rate” notation.)

We asked her to explain what we’re looking at, and to help us understand why, nearly 20 years later, Scientology would be billing someone for the job training they got as a pre-teen.



The Bunker: Tell us about that first course, “Welcome to the Sea Org.”

Sunny: That course is listening to L. Ron Hubbard blather on for five lectures. They were recorded on the ship Apollo, I believe, in the early days of the Sea Org. They are LRH explaining what the Sea Org is, what is expected of a person in the Sea Org, some etiquette in the Sea Org (which is basically to call everyone “Sir” whether male or female, stay the hell out of everyone’s way, you swamper), and anyone can move up just by showing they can be the best and do what is required on them, no questions asked. The tougher you are, better your chances of moving up in the Sea Org. The course, back then, was on reel to reel, not cassette and I hated setting up that thing. Ugh. I wonder if they have at least moved up to CD. I have no idea.

The Bunker: And the others?

Sunny: Basic Sea Org Member Hat is a very short course (one or two days). It covers things like more Sea Org Etiquette, basics on grooming in the Sea Org (no scented products! We WILL sniff you out!), expectations on uniform, how to white glove clean your room, overall Sea Org schedule.

Staff Status I and II: This course is for staff at any org (not just billion-year contract staff in the Sea Org. It’s also for 2 1/2-year and 5-year contracted staff out in the world). These two courses teach the basics of the organizing board. It tells you about the seven division org board, Hubbards pride and joy:
Division 7 – Executive Division (always listed first on the left side when posted on a wall).
Division 1 – Hubbard Communication Office – oversees recruitment, communication (mail sorting, phone lines, etc) and ethics department
Division 2 – Dissemination, including marketing. This is where the registrars are who leech people for all their money
Division 3 – Treasury and collections
Division 4 – Production Division. Most orgs this is where courses and auditing sessions are done
Division 5 – Qualifications Division (Hubbards major discovery of what has been missing from the Whole Track… I kid you not). This division is validity. Does testing and verification of completion of everything from Division 4 above.
Division 6- Has three parts: 6A Division procures new meat. Prices for services here are low to entice. 6B – This is where introductory courses and auditing are delivered. New students are not (supposed to be) mixed with grooved in public of Division 4 (where the meaty stuff is). 6C – This is where Field Staff Members are at… Persons who have done Scn services and are expected to get more people in. They are not actually on staff. They get people in and get commissions on the payments made from the people they get in.

Personal Grooming Course: This kind of self explanatory, except that it has Sea Org standards on grooming and explains everything from teeth brushing to polishing shoes and how to wear the uniforms, and which uniforms are for what.

How to Make Work Easier Course: All Sea Org members are required to do this course. It is actually an introductory course in Scientology and is also delivered to public in Div 6B above. The course takes you through the “Problems of Work” book chapter by chapter with examples and demonstrations throughout.

Success Through Communication Course is also an Introductory course in 6B, required by Sea Org members. It teaches the basic of TR’s. These are not the tough and hard TR’s that you hear about. This one is at an introductory level. (But you do get to sit and stare at another person for a few hours, and you still get to be bullbaited on whatever strange or perverted things your training partner may throw at you).

Keys to Competence Course – Sea Org only course teaches you how to get things done in the Sea Org. Basically by learning to be a bully and telling yourself and everyone else “MAKE IT GO RIGHT!!!!” no matter how impossible or insane your goals are, figure it out.

Student Hat Course – Not part of the training line up for Sea Org members, but I guess I did it anyway at that point. This course has Hubbard study tech lectures (about 12 I think) and lots and lots of bulletins to read to learn all the Hubbard methods for training and learning. Teaches about misunderstood words, teaches about how to do a demo if you are lacking mass on something (can’t picture how it could be? Work it out with some paperclips and rubber bands on the table…. don’t look at the thing itself… just imagine it with these clips and bands), and how skipped gradients can make you unable to learn a subject until you back up to something more basic.

The Bunker: Thank you for that thorough breakdown. People are always really curious about the specifics of the Sea Org life. And looking back on this invoice now, what are you thoughts?

Sunny: Seeing this invoice brings back a lot of memories. I did not join the Sea Org to save the world, which is why most join the Sea Org. My mother was already in the Sea Org, and it seemed the obvious place I would end up. It was what I had been being groomed for, essentially from a very young age. At the time that I joined the Sea Org at 12, I had been stuck on the Children’s RPF for 8 months with no way to get out of it. I was not allowed to talk to anyone else, listen to music, play, or anything and spent my entire days cleaning the childcare building. I had no future at all. It was like I had been left there to fend for myself. A Sea Org recruiter came through looking for another kid to put into the Sea Org. The kid they came for refused to go, so I volunteered. I would have done anything to get off the Children’s RPF. And so, I signed the billion-year contract so I could listen to music again.

When my mother found out I was joining the Sea Org, she was ecstatic. She was extremely proud that I was following in her footsteps. Though the invoice shows a date of Nov 2004, that’s just the billing date — I actually did those courses in July 85, when I was 12. Back in those days, it was common to have such young Sea Org members, and seemed to be actually encouraged.

The courses were difficult for me at that age. Normally the courses on the Sea Org’s boot camp, the Estates Project Force (EPF) take a couple of weeks, three at most. I remember being on the EPF for around 6 months. Studying these courses took some time for me to get through. Another part of the EPF requirement is that you have to show that you are able to handle anything that gets handed to you. I did not like to clean the grease traps in the galley and I was held back and made to repeatedly clean them until I stopped complaining about them. Anyone who has opened and cleaned a grease trap has an idea how horrible they are. They are the drain system for the kitchen/galley and build up all kinds of old and nasty food. We were required to open them, skim the tops of build up and clean the lid and replace. Sounds simple enough, but it was beyond disgusting for this 12-year-old. I am pretty sure I ended up extending my EPF by a couple of weeks because I hated doing it.

On-the-job training is a common thing in the world, but here you have, in the Sea Org, invoicing people for the courses (whether children or not), offering them as “free,” but if you break your (billion-year) contract, you are expected to pay for the on-the-job training you did. Consider the fact that you are forced to clean any nasty condition they offer you, and have to smile about it and thank them for letting you do it, just so you can complete the EPF and get out of there.

Then I spent a couple of decades of my life working long hours, sometimes in horrible conditions, poor food, low sleep, heavy work, and for basically no pay. But when I was ready to leave, they give me this invoice, telling me what I owe. Something is way, way, way off about that.

Then you find out the Sea Org is all a scam (and for many, Scientology too) and you want out. And you get slapped with a bill for over $3,000. That is just the tip of the iceberg.

When you see my earnings next to what is only two years of training at Flag, plus the EPF courses, its clear something is so far off balance.

Scientology and Sea Org, I owe you nothing. We are beyond even. You have taken decades of my life and seem to think you have done me a favor.

The Bunker: And this invoice for $3,000 was only a small part of what the church ultimately tried to bill you after you left the Sea Org in 2004. Here’s another part of what they asked for as your “freeloader bill” for some specific training at the Flag Land Base…


The Bunker: In total, the church asked Sunny to pay about half a million dollars because she dared to leave her job. Meanwhile, here is an indication of what the church was paying Sunny over those years in the Sea Org. She started in 1985 at age 12, and notice the sudden reporting of income after Scientology’s agreement with the IRS in 1993.


Sunny: These reported earnings clearly show how impossible it is to save up in any way in case someday you decide the Sea Org is not for you. I’ve seen many cases of people wanting to leave but not doing so because they didn’t have the outside support or financial resources to make it work. While room and board are covered by the Sea Org, and while this money is supposed to be to cover necessities, for many it was not enough to cover basic essentials. Where is the logic in having a person dedicate their lives, full time, 24/7 to a cause that pays pennies, then when you decide you have had enough, the response is never a “thank you for your work.” No, it’s getting slapped with a huge bill for “freeloading.” In what world does that make any sense?

The Bunker: And how much of the half million dollars they asked for did they convince you to pay back?

Sunny: Not one thin dime.


Make your plans now!


Hey, we’re only a month away from this year’s HowdyCon in Chicago, June 21-23. As in past years, we’re looking forward to meeting readers of the Bunker, culminating in Saturday night’s main event.

The biggest difference this year is that our Saturday night event is separate from that evening’s dinner. Chee Chalker is setting up an inexpensive pizza dinner that you don’t need to pay for ahead of time, after which we’ll walk over to the theater where our event, hosted by Chicago Fire star Christian Stolte, will take place. Because it’s a separate event, we’re asking that you pay $10 each to get into the Saturday night event, which will help us recoup what the Bunker paid for the venue. (We have never made a penny on our HowdyCon meetups, we only try to break even.)

Please email your proprietor (tonyo94 AT gmail) in order to reserve your spot for Saturday night’s main event. Seating is limited, and we’re going to have some really interesting people on stage and they may make a few announcements that you don’t want to miss.



Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,121 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,724 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 267 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 155 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,330 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,104 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,878 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,224 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 10,790 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,458 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,718 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,758 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,470 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 996 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,085 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,225 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,545 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,520 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 876 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,178 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,284 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,687 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,559 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,141 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,646 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,890 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,999 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on May 21, 2018 at 07:00

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Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2017 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2017), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news


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