B. Indirect Regulation

In addition to regulations that directly address occupational pesticide usage, there is legislation that can afford workers occupational protection by allowing them to exercise more control over their workplaces. For example, workers who can engage in dialogue and bargaining with their employers are better able to ensure that there are adequate health and safety measures or that they are being proportionately compensated for occupational risks. Since the 1930s, the rights of U.S. workers to organize, engage in collective bargaining and work stoppage methods, and receive a minimum wage and overtime pay have been protected by federal laws such as those that eventually evolved into the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act But even with the inception of these laws, Congress failed to extend their protections to farmworkers under the doctrine of agricultural exceptionalism--a practice that historically emerged from negotiations between Southern politicians seeking to protect agriculture's access to cheap labor (which at the time was predominately African-American) and Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration attempting to promote New Deal social and economic reform. The outcome of this policy was institutional discrimination and its legacy remains in place today.

For example, the NLRA provides important legislative protection for workers. It recognizes that strikes and other forms of work disruption resulting from uneven bargaining between workers and employers are detrimental to commerce. To discourage such disruption, the NLRA seeks to level the playing field for workers by protecting their right to associate, organize, select representatives, and, most importantly, engage in collective bargaining. But the NLRA explicitly excludes farmworkers. It is very difficult for farmworkers to organize without legal protection against employer retribution, and the result has been that while the nation's other workers are able to engage in collective action to increase their salaries and improve their working conditions, farmworkers often have had to fight just to be paid their existing wages. Unorganized workers who fear employer retribution will not press for increased safety measures at the workplace.

The FLSA recognizes that working conditions that reduce the standard of living necessary for the health, efficiency, and general well-being of workers can eventually interfere with productive commerce. Thus, the FLSA seeks to protect commerce by regulating working conditions such as minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment for employees in private and public industry. Originally, farmworkers were excluded from the FLSA, but in 1966 Congress amended the Act, extending the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Act to the majority of farmworkers. However, farmworkers are still subject to exclusions. For example, certain farmworkers can be exempt from minimum wage, overtime pay, and child labor provisions.