The union's national board had overwhelmingly endorsed the increase in April, but the rank-and-file voted it down 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent.
SAG officials said the proposal would have generated more than $7 million per year to finance a "war chest," replenish the union's operating fund, and pursue member service programs. In addition to the dues increase, the proposal would have raised the union's share of members' earnings from union jobs, and increased new member initiation fees from $1,356 to $2,085.
"It's never a popular decision to go to members and ask for more resources," said SAG Secretary-Treasurer James Cromwell. "But the National Board felt strongly that a strike fund, enhanced member services and an end to deficit spending were worth an extra $30 a year."
SAG President Melissa Gilbert said the members were divided on the vote, but will "remain united at the negotiating table."