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The Verizon call centers are being manned by management employees and others during the strike.

As part of the call-in plan, retirees in one example were encouraged to call a number for the Verizon repair center at 10 a.m. and again at 2 p.m., saying the telephone line to the house “is on the ground and the kids are playing with it, making it a very dangerous situation.”

The email, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times, then tells the callers to “ask when someone will be out to address this critical issue” and to “disagree with any scheduled time given (if any).”

In another case, the email asks the retirees to call and ask for the rates for Verizon high-speed Internet and to “make the representative run through all of the rates during the call.”

In another scenario, the email asks the retirees to call the number for business DSL or high-speed Internet and say, “I am having trouble connecting to the Internet.” It goes on to say: “If you are not a Verizon DSL customer, wait for them to inform you that you are not a DSL customer and initiate next call on the script.”

Mr. Welsh, who said the union first used the tactic of phoning the call centers in 1989, said he got an email about retirees making calls from the national retired members office and passed it on to the local chapters in his district. He estimated that 4,000 retired CWA members probably got the email in New England, New York and New Jersey. He said he heard back from some who had made calls, and they had kept Verizon officials “on the phone for 15 minutes.”

It was not clear Thursday whether delays at the call centers were caused by the retirees’ campaign or because inexperienced employees were answering the phones. The Washington Times got mixed results making a suggested 3 p.m. call to a center that tests circuits — two of the listed numbers were answered, and two others were not.

Two other calls by The Times to repair centers went to automated answering systems, neither of which was transferred after 10-minute waits.