Attempts to reach an agreement failed again last month
The Screen Actors Guild has announced it intends to send strike authorisation ballots to its members on 2 January.
Votes will be counted on 23 January. If 75% of the US guild's voting members approve the measure, the SAG national board will be able to call a strike.
A strike could have ramifications for the Academy Awards, set to take place in Los Angeles on 22 February.
Last year's Golden Globe awards were called off because of the Hollywood writers strike.
Union leaders have failed to reach an agreement on a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).
"SAG members understand their futures as professional actors are at stake," said the guild's president Alan Rosenberg on Wednesday.
One of the key areas of contention is how, and how much, actors should be paid for film and TV content delivered over the internet.
Actors are currently working under the provisions of their old contract, which expired on 30 June.
"I believe SAG members will vote to send us back to the table with the threat of a strike," added Rosenberg.
He also warned a 'No' vote would undermine the union next year in its separate negotiations with the advertising and cable TV industries.
The AMPTP has attacked this latest move, saying SAG members were being asked "to bail out a failed negotiating strategy by going on strike during one of the worst economic crises in history".
The Screen Actors Guild's last major strike took place in 1980 and lasted three months.