The guild said it adjourned talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers just before 1 a.m. after two marathon sessions with federal mediator Juan Carlos Gonzalez.
SAG, representing more than 120,000 actors in movies, television and other media, said in a statement that it will launch a "full-scale education campaign in support of a strike authorization."
Talks broke down after the studios sought the right to create productions for new media, such as the Internet, using nonunion actors and without paying residuals, Doug Allen, SAG's national executive director and chief negotiator, said.
Residuals are payments to actors are made every time a production airs, such as TV reruns.
"They're asking us to bless a system we believe would be the beginning of the end of residuals, and that's a very scary thought for working actors," he said.
The producers' alliance condemned the SAG decision and said it is the only major Hollywood guild without a labor deal this year.
"Now, SAG is bizarrely asking its members to bail out the failed negotiating strategy with a strike vote -- at a time of historic economic crisis," a producers' statement said. "The tone-deafness of SAG is stunning."
The Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers were unable to negotiate a contract.
WHERE IT WENT WRONG: The studios sought the right to create productions for new media using nonunion actors and without paying residuals.
WHAT SAG WANTS: Union coverage for all Internet-only productions, as well as actor protections during work stoppages.
WHAT'S NEXT: SAG's national board has already authorized its negotiating committee to call for a strike authorization vote. The vote would take more than a month and require more than 75 percent approval to pass.