SAN DIEGO, JAN. 28 -- Art Wilkinson, a former player agent, said tonight he has over 300 signatures to force an election that would give National Football League players a chance to form a new union.

"We have 320 names right now, including some people with a real recognition factor," he said, adding that he will announce some of those names, including potential members of a board of directors for what he hopes will become a new union.

According to labor laws, if Wilkinson can show the National Labor Relations Board he has 30 percent of the members in the NFL Players Association requesting an election, that election has to come about.

"We think it's time for a new union because the current union has been ineffective in every possible way," Wilkinson said. "There is every reason for all these players to ask 'What has this union done for me lately?' The answer is nothing."

Wilkinson, a Philadelphian who describes himself as managing director of NFL PRO (Players Representation Organization) estimated it will take about 480 names, or 30 percent of the NFLPA's 1,600 members, to force an election. "We've had a real flurry of activity lately," he said, "and we are very optimistic."

That was in marked contrast to the NFLPA's stance on Wilkinson's efforts. "From what I can gather, the response has not been that great," Gene Upshaw, the union's executive director, said at a news conference today to discuss his union's latest effort to win a collective bargaining agreement with the NFL. "After the strike, we expected something like this . . . what he's doing is collecting cards. If he gets enough cards, there will be an election. If there's an election, so what."

Dick Berthelsen, the NFLPA's legal counsel, added "I suspect a lot of his cards are from replacement players. He may claim to have valid cards and the NLRB will have to decide that, but I haven't had one player tell me he's signed a card, and certainly not one player rep. . . . If he wasn't able to do it during the season, how's he going to do it now?"

Upshaw and Berthelsen spent most of their time today reviewing the union's 24-day strike against the NFL. The strike ended without a new agreement when the players decided to go back to work and Upshaw said he still is hopeful of bargaining for a new contract.

Upshaw said he spoke with Jack Donlan, executive director of the management council, two weeks ago, but there has been no movement on either side. Both sides also are awaiting a ruling that could come Friday from a Minneapolis judge on the union's injunction asking that players who become free agents on Feb. 1 (a total of about 500) be free to negotiate with any team. Both sides have indicated they will appeal if the decision goes against them.

Said Donlan, "We feel pretty good about it {a favorable decision}, but if it goes against us, we'll ask for a stay."

Upshaw also indicated that 75 percent of the players on the Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins have paid their $2,000 a man union dues for the coming year. He declined to provide a league-wide figure, saying it was "an internal matter . . . but I'm satisfied with the rate the dues are coming in." There is no longer a dues checkoff, meaning players must send the funds directly to the union.