The WNBA's players are forming a union, and their male counterparts are helping out.

A majority of WNBA players agreed to the union, with the National Basketball Players Association serving as the league's collective bargaining representative."So far, we've received signed union cards from close to 100 of the 120 WNBA players since our organizing drive began about four weeks ago," said Billy Hunter, director of the NBPA. "It presents us with a clear mandate to begin negotiating with the WNBA on behalf of these players, and we are delighted to have the opportunity to do so."

Negotiations are to begin immediately, according to Hunter.

"Our ultimate goal is to finalize a new collective bargaining agreement as soon as possible and help ensure that the WNBA continues to build on the success it has enjoyed over the past two years," Hunter said.

The WNBA, which surpassed 1 million in attendance this season, is averaging over 10,000 per game, an 8 percent increase from last season.

The NBPA is currently organizing the Women's National Basketball Players Association. When an agreement is reached, WNBA players will concentrate on creating an executive committee for the WNBPA.

"This union will be driven by the players' agenda, above all else," Hunter said.

Bruce Levy of Bruce Levy Associates International Ltd., which represents more than 30 WNBA players, said the time is right to establish a union.

"We are very pleased that the WNBA is as successful as it has been, and we feel that the time has come to ensure that the players receive their fair share of the benefits that derive from that success," Levy said. "The players have decisively concluded that the NBPA is the organization that can convert that potential into promise. We are firmly convinced that Billy Hunter and his staff have demonstrated a strong understanding of, and commitment to, the issues that affect women employed as professional basketball players."

WNBA spokesman Mark Pray declined comment.